Jane Hirshfield

Prize-winning Poet, Translator, and Essayist

Jane Hirshfield’s poetry speaks to the central issues of human existence—desire and loss, impermanence and beauty, the many dimensions of our connection with others and the wider community of creatures and objects with which we share our lives. Demonstrating with quiet authority what it means to awaken into the full capacities of attention, her work sets forth a hard-won affirmation of our human fate. Described by The New York Times as “radiant and passionate” and by other reviewers as “ethically aware,” “insightful and eloquent,” and as conveying “succinct wisdom,” her subjects range from the metaphysical and passionate to the political, ecological, and scientific to subtle unfoldings of daily life and experience. Her book of essays on the “mind of poetry” and several anthologies recording the work of women poets from the past have become classics in their fields. An intimate, profound, and generous master of her art, Hirshfield has taught at UC Berkeley, Duke University, Bennington College and elsewhere, and her many appearances at writers conferences and literary festivals in this country and abroad have been highly acclaimed.

Jane Hirshfield is the author of seven collections of poetry, including  Come, Thief, After (shortlisted for England’s T.S. Eliot Prize and named a “best book of 2006” by the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the London Financial Times), Given Sugar, Given Salt (finalist for the 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award), The Lives of the Heart, and The October Palace, as well as a book of essays, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry. She also edited and co-translated four books containing the work of poets from the past: The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Komachi & Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan, Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women, Mirabai: Ecstatic Poems, and The Heart of Haiku, on Basho, named an Amazon Best Book of 2011. Her work appears in the 2013 editions of The Best Spiritual WritingThe Best American Poetry, and The Pushcart Prize Anthology. Hirshfield's newest books are a book of poetry titled The Beauty, and a book of essays titled Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World, both released in March 2015.

Hirshfield’s other honors include The Poetry Center Book Award; 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; and (both twice) the Commonwealth Club’s California Book Award and the Northern California Book Reviewers Award. In 2012 she received the Donald Hall-Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry.

Hirshfield's work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Times Literary Supplement, The Nation, Orion, The American Poetry Review, Poetry, seven editions of The Best American Poetry, four Pushcart Prize Anthologies,and many other publications. Her work frequently appears on Garrison Keillor’s public radio Writer's Almanac program and has also been featured in two Bill Moyers PBS programs. In fall 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.


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"In 20 or 30 years, this book may be remembered as one of the great common-readers on the pleasures of poetry . . . . [Hirshfield’s] approach to poetry is exhilarating. . . . . This thrilling work of immense value is truly an important book on one of the most important subjects: poetry. However, like a strong drink (or a great poem) it probably isn’t to be taken in a single gulp. It may even seem a little intoxicating, but drink." Library Journal, starred review for Ten Windows
"Hirshfield's seventh collection of poems is a deep well full of strength and wisdom." The New York Times
"Jane Hirshfield is one of our finest, most memorable contemporary poets." The American Poet
"An evocative mix of control and wildness, stunning beauty and unseen forces." The Christian Science Monitor
"Poems that brilliantly portray even mundane experiences as if they were nothing short of revelation." The Washington Post
"Hirshfield is amazing." —Donald Hall, The Boston Globe
Jane Hirshfield©Michael Lionheart