Welcome to Seven Minutes in Heaven, GO Magazine’s interview series that profiles a different queer babe each day, by asking them seven unique (and sometimes random) questions. Get to know the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of the groundbreaking, fierce forces-of-nature in the queer community.
Queer babes who love poetry, gather ’round. Meet Joanna Hoffman, an immensely talented spoken word poet from Silver Spring, MD and now living in Brooklyn. Hoffman has slayed on five National Poetry Slam teams and her work has appeared in PANK, Union Station Magazine, Sinister Wisdom, The Legendary, decomP, among others. Her full-length book of poetry, Running for Trap Doors, was published by Sibling Rivalry Press in August 2013, and has been nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. She has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
When not performing poetry, Hoffman works at a non-profit organization and runs in Prospect Park. She is one talented queer babe– spend Seven Minutes in Heaven with her!
GO Magazine: Who are you and what do you do?
Joanna Hoffman: Hi GO Magazine! I’m Joanna, and I’m a poet, teaching artist, communications manager at a nonprofit, and a member of Front Runners NY.
GO: What is the driving force behind your poetry?
JH: I first started writing poetry around the same age I was realizing that I’m gay. I came out to myself through poetry–from abstract metaphors about Angelina Jolie to, eventually, poems where I used female pronouns without flinching. Poetry was a safe place for me to explore the confusion in my head. In college, I started performing at open mics and poetry slams, and then poetry became a way of connecting with other people, finding common humanity, and hopefully making people laugh, too. Poetry opened up a global community for me and helped me to see that none of us are ever truly alone in what we’re going through.
GO: Do you see a relationship between queerness and poetry?
JH: Definitely. Poetry can provide a therapeutic outlet and connect you to other people who might understand what you’re going through. It’s also a medium for voices that are constantly being silenced, talked over, spoken on behalf of, and drowned out, now more than ever.
GO: Who are your biggest queer lady role models?
JH: There are so many. One is my good friend Sonya Renee Taylor who wrote an incredible poem called The Body is Not an Apology. The poem transformed people’s lives, and became a global movement with content reaching millions. Sonya just published a book with the same title all about the power of radical self-love, and I highly encourage all of you to check it out!
I’m also really into the music of lesbian pop star Hayley Kiyoko. If her music had been out when I was a teenager, I probably would have come out a lot earlier.
GO: Where do you go for inspiration when you’re feeling discouraged or depleted?
JH: If nothing else, 2017 helped me to know the answer to this question: I meet up with or call friends or family who love me unconditionally; I read Aracelis Girmay’s poem On Kindness (which might change your life if it hasn’t already); or I go for a run through Prospect, Central or Brooklyn Bridge Park with Front Runners.
GO: Tell us about front runners.
JH: Front Runners is a running and triathlon club for runners who identify as LGBTQ+ or are allies. The NYC club offers fun runs three days a week that are open to the public, speed workouts, swim nights, training sessions, beginner clinics, social events, and we often run races together. I joined in September, and it was the best thing I could have done for myself. FRNY has given me structure around my running schedule, inspired me to enter the lottery for the NY marathon, and, most importantly, welcomed me into an amazing community of friendly people to run with (and eat great food with afterwards).
GO: How can people find you/ read your work/ join front runners?
JH: People can find me at www.joannahoffman.com, and find my book Running for Trap Doors through Amazon or through my website. And if you’re a runner in the NYC area, please come check out a Front Runners Fun Run in Brooklyn on Tuesday nights or in Central Park on Wednesday nights or Saturday mornings (more info at https://frny.org/fun-run/, or Facebook.)