Roald Hoffman

b. 1937

Current City, State, Country

Ithaca, New York, USA

Birth City, State, Country

Zloczow, Poland (now Zolochiv, Ukraine)


Hoffmann had his first real introduction to poetry at Columbia from Mark Van Doren, the great teacher and critic whose influence was at its height in the 1950’s. He began to write poetry in the mid-seventies, but it is only in 1984 that his work began to be published. Hoffmann owes much to a poetry group at Cornell that included the late A. R. Ammons, Phyllis Janowitz and David Burak (still alive and kickin’), as well as to Maxine Kumin. His poems have appeared in many magazines and several anthologies, and have been translated into French, German, Portuguese, Russian (see book below), Spanish (see books below), Catalan (10 poems), Galician (6 poems), Polish, Croatian and Swedish. One of Hoffmann’s poems appears in The Best American Poetry 1994, edited by A. R. Ammons.

Roald Hoffmann’s first poetry collection, The Metamict State, was published by the University Press of Florida in 1987; the same publisher also came out with his second collection, Gaps and Verges, 1990. This was followed by Memory Effects, published in 1999 by Calhoun Press. His fourth collection, Soliton, was published by Truman State University Press in 2002. In the same year, Huerga y Fierro in Madrid published “Catalísta,” a bilingual book of Spanish translations of Roald Hoffmann’s poems. A bilingual book of translations into Russian “Roald Hoffmann: Izbranniye Stichotvorenia” was published by Tekst in Moscow in 2011. “Constants of the Motion” was published by Dos Madres Press in 2020. In 2023, a bilingual Spanish and English selection  of his poems was published by Auralaria Press in Orihuela, Spain. Hoffmann also writes nonfiction (five books) and plays (three plays produced).

Roald also has a life outside of poetry. He was born in 1937 in Złoczów, then Poland, now Ukraine. He came to the US in 1949, and has long been at Cornell University, active as a theoretical chemist. In chemistry he has taught his colleagues how to think about electrons influencing structure and reactivity, and won most of the honors of his profession.

What is the relationship between Judaism and/or Jewish culture and your poetry?

I am a child survivor of the Holocaust, and some of my poems are built on that experience, and on Jewish themes.

Published Works

The Metamict State (University of Central Florida Press)
Gaps and Verges (University of Central Florida Press)
Memory Effects (Calhoun Press, Chicago, 1999)
Soliton (Truman State University Press, 2002)
Catalista: Poemas Escogidos, Huerga & Fierro Editores (Madrid, 2002; Bilingual edition, edited by Francisco Garcia)
Roald Hoffmann Izbrannie Stichotvorenia, Izdatel’stvo Tekst (Moscow, 2010; Bilingual edition, Russian/English; Russian translations by Alla Mikhalevich and Victor Fet)
Constants of the Motion (Dos Madres Press, 2020)
Los Hombres y las Moléculas, Auralaria Editores, Orihuela (Spain, 2023; Bilingual edition in Spanish/English, Spanish translations by Luisa Pastor)

Author Site

Links to Sample Works

Current Title

Frank HT Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters, Emeritus


Columbia University
Harvard University, Ph.D., 1962