Jane Hirshfield, in poems described by The Washington Post as belonging “among the modern masters” and by The New York Times as “passionate and radiant,” addresses the urgent immediacies of our time. Ranging from the political, ecological, and scientific to the metaphysical, personal, and passionate, Hirshfield praises the radiance of particularity and reckons the consequence of the daily. Her poems and essays traverse the crises of the biosphere and of social justice. Her work lives in the intersections of facts and imagination, desire and loss, impermanence and beauty— all the dimensions of our shared existence within what one poem calls “the pure democracy of being.”
Her nine poetry books include Ledger (March, 2020), The Beauty, long-listed for the 2015 National Book Award; Given Sugar, Given Salt, a finalist for the 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award; and After, short-listed for England’s T.S. Eliot Award and named a “best book of 2006” by The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, and England’s Financial Times. Her two collections of essays, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry (1997) and Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World (2015), have become classics in their field, as have her four books collecting and co-translating the work of world poets from the past: The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Komachi & Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Japanese Court; Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women; Mirabai: Ecstatic Poems; and The Heart of Haiku, on Matsuo Basho, named an Amazon Best Book of 2011. Her next book will be The Asking: New & Selected Poems (Knopf, September 2023).
Hirshfield’s other honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Academy of American Poets; Columbia University’s Translation Center Award; The Poetry Center Book Award, The California Book Award, the Northern California Book Reviewers Award, and the Donald Hall-Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry. Her work appears in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Review of Books, Poetry, and ten editions of The Best American Poetry. In 2004, Jane Hirshfield was awarded the 70th Academy Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement by The Academy of American Poets, an honor formerly held by such poets as Robert Frost, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Elizabeth Bishop. In 2012, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. In 2017, in conjunction with reading to an estimated 50,000 people on the Washington Mall at the first March For Science, she co-founded Poets For Science, housed with the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University. In 2019, she was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2022 Hirshfield was appointed Seamus Heaney International Visiting Poetry Fellow at Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland.
Hirshfield has taught at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Bennington College, and elsewhere. An intimate and profound master of her art, her frequent appearances at universities, writers’ conferences, symposia and festivals in this country and abroad are highly acclaimed. Her poems and essays have been translated into over a dozen languages and her work has been set by numerous composers, including John Adams and Philip Glass. Her TED-ED animated lesson on metaphor has received over one million views.
Photo Nick Rozsa