Janice Hoffman’s poems “Night Cravings,” “Pan’s Shadow,” and “Unbound” have three distinct tones and three distinct themes. In a few months there will be one place they can be found as they were selected for the Indiana Arts Commission’s digital poetry archive.
She received an email July 10 notifying her of the inclusion of her work when the archive is posted online in the fall.
“I was really, really honored because there are a lot of writers out there,” said Hoffman, who has been an English professor at Thomas Nelson since 2008.
Hoffman was born in Kentucky but grew up in Indiana and spent the majority of her adult life in the Hoosier state. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees, both in English, from Indiana University, and taught for 10 years at Indiana University Southeast, a regional campus for IU.
To be eligible for the archive, which is called “INverse,” a writer must be from Indiana, currently living in Indiana or have spent a considerable amount of time in Indiana. Once selected, a poet has to wait three years to submit any more work, and the Indiana Arts Commission will be adding to its archives every year.
“Night Cravings” was first published several years ago and was also in a book of poems she released last year. The other two are new works. She decided to submit those three because she said they represent a nice sampling of her work.
“Night Cravings” consists of allusions to Indiana, “Pan’s Shadow” deals with Peter Pan’s shadow, but also shadows in our lives and how the truth always triumphs in the end, and “Unbound” is based on a quote by American photographer Ansel Adams. The one thing they have in common is they are all free verse, which is her preferred style when writing poems.
While the coronavirus pandemic has hit the creative arts especially hard, Hoffman’s most recent honor continues a busy writing year for her. And that’s on top of her teaching duties at the Historic Triangle campus.
In the past 12 months, she’s won more than a dozen awards, her work has been published in either a literary journal or a poetry society anthology in seven states, a collection of her poetry came out about this time last year, and her first children’s book, “Four Fairy Friends,” was published in fall 2019 in time for Christmas release. This summer, that book will be translated into Spanish.
“We’re so excited about that,” said Hoffman, who is a member of the Poetry Society of Virginia and was the runner-up for Poet Laureate of Hampton Roads in 2017.
Another of her poems wa recently published on a website that features work related to the pandemic.
“I am (staying busy),” she said. “I’m trying to keep my adult brain on one side and my children’s adventure on another.”
And she’s working on another collection of her free verse poems.
About the only aspects that aren’t going well are her book signings and book tours, but that’s not because of a lack of interest. It’s because of travel restrictions.
“Last year, I had a really successful book tour in Indiana and Kentucky,” she said. “I can’t do any of that this year.”
That appears to have given her more time to write, and the results have been impressive.