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Award-winning Poet, Translator & Essayist

BIOGRAPHY

Jane Hirshfield, in poems described by The Washington Post as belonging “among the modern masters” and in The New York Times Magazine as “among the most important poetry in the world today,” 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, questions of social justice, and the myriad interior quandaries of heart, mind, and spirit. Her work lives at the intersection 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 ten poetry books include the newly published The Asking: New & Selected Poems (September, 2023); 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, 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.

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, Orion, and ten editions of The Best American Poems. 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 the Poets For Science traveling installation, housed with the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University. In 2019, she was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Hirshfield has taught at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Bennington College, Queen's University Belfast, and elsewhere. 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 fifteen 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 1.5 million views.

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