In the Buddha Factory

Alan Soldofsky


2012 T. S. Eliot Prize Finalist

Captivating and truthful, In the Buddha Factory is rich in detail, honest in tragedy, and poignant in observation.

Book trailer for “In the Buddha Factory”

Metroactive interview with Alan Soldofsky

Alan Soldofsky and Robert Sward reading at Albany Library

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2012 T. S. Eliot Prize Finalist

Captivating and truthful, In the Buddha Factory is rich in detail, honest in tragedy, and poignant in observation. Through a mastery of style and language placed against the backdrop of Silicon Valley, Soldofsky explores the tension of opposites of place and no place, rich and poor, and finite and the limitless. These poems capture the intricacies of family, aging, and identity, and renders them in words both insightful and lyrical.

Formally elegant, wonderfully attentive to tone, In the Buddha Factory mixes reverence, good humor, grievous tragedy and affirmation in enlightening ways. The result is a collection that honors each detail; every poem here approaches its subject with wonder and respect.

—Sandra McPherson

Alan Soldofsky is a poet with a metaphysical bent and a strong sense of place, a traveler who keeps coming home to California, a spiritual wanderer keenly alert to the incongruities of modern life—in a Buddha factory in China, for example—and the hyper-reality of the 21st century. His carefully constructed, long-awaited first book is a work of full maturity, high achievement.

—Edward Hirsch

I really, really love this book. No one has written such a thing before, from such a vast, infinity library of sources and human experience. At the core, Soldofsky mixes a new metaphysics–loving, alarming, dissolving–all the poetry you never imagined in and out of language. Finally, a twenty-first century collection.

—Juan Felipe Herrera



Beyond Where I Have Ever Traveled

Part I: Present
Sense of Place
Palm Haven
Early December
The Beginning of Summer
Anniversaries of Autumn

Part II: In the Buddha Factory
In the Buddha Factory
At West Lake
Zhejiang Postcards
Early Morning Postcard
New Century Hotel
At Yandang Shan
Arriving Back in California
Wandering Around
El Eden
Friends Café
In the Air

Part III: Hyperreal
Hyperreal: Virgil in Los Angeles
Sympathy for the Devil
Of Its Occasion
Wordsworth in Santa Cruz
John Clare in Santa Clara
Coleridge in West Marin
What is Not Allowed
Millennium Jukebox
Recovery at Lake Tahoe
Goofy Foot

About the Author


Alan Soldofsky has published three poetry chapbooks: Kenora Station, Staying Home, and a chapbook that includes a selection of poems by his son, Adam Soldofsky, Holding Adam / My Father's Books. He was the recipient of a 2009 Artist Fellowship in Literary Arts from Arts Council Silicon Valley. His poems and criticism have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The Georgia Review, The Greensboro Review, The Nation, The North American Review, Poetry Flash, Poetry East West, Rattle, The Rattling Wall, and The Writer's Chronicle among other publications. He directs the Creative Writing Program at San Jose State University where he is a Professor of English and Comparative Literature. He also has taught at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of San Francisco. He has been a contributing editor of Poetry Flash (the Bay Area poetry newsletter), a producer/host of literary programs at KPFA-FM, Berkeley, and editorial director of the Commonwealth Club of California weekly newsletter, serving under club president Amb. Shirley Temple Black. He grew up in Iowa City and received an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop.







In the Buddha Factory tells us in poem after poem that true poetry is present, vividly, vitally, and genuinely, in Soldofsky’s work. Often funny, entirely original, and always movingly humane, this book is a gift.

—Daniel Tobin

This first collection from Alan Soldofsky reads like a fourth or fifth—dense with memorable imagery, the grit of experience, and a careful attention to language that together make it resonate with a captivating yogic hum.... These are poems of the here-and-now—love songs to the lived, the ending, the always-partial—that still feel eternal. In this machine-less factory with space for thoughtful wandering, there are endless Buddhas.

—Dorianne Laux

In the Buddha Factory shuttles between mindfulness and “confusion’s sorry racket” with a voice that is intimate, quizzical, and wryly human. As he moves both deeper into the world and the wonders of language, Soldofsky’s poems constantly surprise us with their odd-angled ironies and hard-wrought wisdom. Written by a superb craftsman at the height of his powers, this is a masterful collection.

—David Mura

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