03 January 2014

gathering up the wasatch front

One of my projects for 2014 is an anthology about the Wasatch Front in Utah. I am co-editing this project with my friends Kase Johnstun and Mary Johnstun. In a random coincidence of place and interest, Kase and I are alumni of both Weber State University and Pacific University.

The book will be called Wasatch Front Reflections and is scheduled to be published by the History Press later this year.

My Utah connection begins with family that were early settlers in the Salt Lake valley. I was born at Holy Cross Hospital while my parents were both students at the University of Utah. Even as I traveled around the world with my family as my father served in the U.S. Air Force, Utah was a big part of  my childhood. As far back as I can remember, my grandparents lived near Hill Air Force Base, the blue peak of Mt. Ogden rising up at the back of their house. While some of my best adventures took place further north in Cache Valley on my uncle's dairy farm in Benson.

With a rush of memories, I've enjoyed working on this book. The early submissions have been terrific, and I'm excited to see how it's coming together.

Last Call for Submissions 

For the anthology, we are seeking place-based essay, creative non-fiction narrative, memoir, research-based history, or immersion journalism pieces from 1500-2500 words in length. The collective works will provide a broad overview of the area, honor all aspects of culture, challenge the stereotypes, and explore the confluence of community, culture, and identity in the Wasatch Front. Pieces may be new or previously published (with appropriate permissions). The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2014.

Submit online at wasatchfrontreflections.submittable.com.

Follow the progress of the book on Facebook: www.facebook.com/WasatchFrontReflections.

30 November 2013

commencement essay

The combination of Thanksgiving holiday weekend and celebration of the Hanukkah Festival of Lights feels like just the right time for the publication release of my essay "Seemingly Unrelated Events" in the newest issue of December literary magazine, the Revival Issue (Vol 24) December 1, 2013. This is a version of the commencement speech I gave as the student speaker for the Pacific University MFA commencement ceremonies in June of this year.

I am honored to be included in this magazine alongside some terrific writers and friends from Pacific University, such as Marvin Bell, Peter Sears, Dawn Robinson, Jeanne Morel, Jaydn DeWald, and Karen Holman, among others. Another amazing and wonderful opportunity. 

My thanks to all who made this possible, my family, teachers, mentors and friends. And my husband who's talked me down from the metaphorical ledge more than once whenever I am faced with a writing or speaking challenge.

Subscribe to December for the current issue and much more. My opinion: literary works are always a good investment of the mind. 

~ sherri

"Exactly 444 years before the day of my birth, Hernando Cortes set fire to the
Aztec aviaries of the besieged city of Tenochtitlan, the story written in Crossing OpenGround by Barry Lopez. It is 1989. Lopez is already a renowned author and National Book Award recipient, writing about human culture in the context of the natural
world. I am a 23-year-old English undergrad at Weber State University with two small
children, living on welfare in a trailer park under the runway flight path of nearby Hill
Air Force Base, painfully aware that my marriage of three years is failing. I am instantly
connected to the images of the birds burning in their cages. Connected by my own
despair. By my birth date there on the page." [subscribe to read more]
                                                ~Sherri Hoffman, from "Seemingly Unrelated Events"

19 October 2013

reading in milwaukee

Outside of Tokyo, our family lived in a house with a sunroom that looked out over the garden, and that was our playroom. Maybe I was five. In that sunroom, my brother, sister, and I would listen to records, 33s or 45s, and one of our favorites was the 1946 Disney rendition of Sergei Prokofiev's Op. 67: Peter and the Wolf.  You know the one: Peter is represented by the strings; Sasha the bird by the flute; Sonja the duck by the oboe; and the wolf. . . . We must have listened to that record a hundred times, and every time the wolf first appears—all brass and drums—we'd leap, screaming, over the high, arched back of the green couch to hide.

Reading in public is sometimes like that for me. Not that I'll be leaping over any couches anytime soon, but the clench of fear in my chest as I approach the microphone is the same. Every time.

Nerves aside, I am privileged to be reading with some fine faculty and grad students from my new digs at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee: Creative Writing Professor Mauricio Kilwein Guevara, and graduate students Tobias Wray and Elisa Karbin.

Meet me there:
Friday, October 25
Boswell Book Company
2559 N Downer Ave
Milwaukee, WI
~ sherri