October 06, 2009
She will be discussing her poem, "Those Who Cannot Act," from her 2006 book, After. Join the discussion here.
Jane Hirshfield was born in New York City in 1953. After receiving her B.A. from Princeton University in their first graduating class to include women, she went on to study at the San Francisco Zen Center. Her books of poetry include After (HarperCollins, 2006); Given Sugar, Given Salt (2001), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, The Lives of the Heart (1997), The October Palace (1994), Of Gravity & Angels (1988), and Alaya (1982).
She is the author of Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry (1997) and has also edited and translated The Ink Dark Moon: Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan (1990) with Mariko Aratani and Women in Praise of the Sacred: Forty-Three Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women (1994).
About her work, the poet Rosanna Warren has said: "Hirshfield has elaborated a sensuously philosophical art that imposes a pause in our fast-forward habits of mind. Her poems appear simple, and are not. Her language, in its cleanliness and transparency, poses riddles of a quietly metaphysical nature.... Clause by clause, image by image, in language at once mysterious and commonplace, Hirshfield's poems clear a space for reflection and change. They invite ethical awareness, and establish a delicate balance."
Her honors include The Poetry Center Book Award, fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, Columbia University's Translation Center Award, the Commonwealth Club of California Poetry Medal, and the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award. In 2004, Hirshfield was awarded the 70th Academy Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement by The Academy of American Poets,
In addition to her work as a freelance writer and translator, Hirshfield has taught at UC Berkeley, University of San Francisco, and been Elliston Visiting Poet at the University of Cincinnati. She is currently on the faculty of the Bennington MFA Writing Seminars.