I’ve just realized that my reflection on Cynthia Marie Hoffman’s Sightseer is quoted on her website! Does this make me an accomplished critic? Insightful student? I don’t know, but it’s pretty cool to me.
More thoughts to follow.
It’s a Sisyphean task, taking the responsibility to convey all the movement and humanity that Cynthia Marie Hoffman attempts in Sightseer. There are so many things one must choose to leave out, and it is the left out which compels in her collection. How many collections worth of material was she able to mine from these excursions, to bring back to us in the new history side of the world? And will she find herself written into a corner if she keeps exploiting them, or like a responsible miner, shut the mineshaft down? Despite all of what was left out, the keen gaze Hoffman exerts on her chosen subjects, many of them religious artifacts, asks the reader to step past the gate and down to the below surface as in the poem “On the Western Coast of Anglesey, the Tourists” (59-60) while at the same time requesting the assertion of gaze at those two women on the beach in their hiking boots.