Synopses & Reviews
A dazzling collection of essays on how the best poems work, from the master poet and popular essayist.
Jane Hirshfield offers ten eloquent and highly original explorations into how great poems transform our experience of the world. Touching on everything from the concept of "windows" in poems (the moments where a word, phrase, or shift in tone "opens" something for the reader) to the mechanisms of surprise and uncertainty, Jane uses particular poems (by Basho, Dickinson, Szymborska, Gilbert, Cavafy and Creeley, to name a few) to show us how poetry works, word by charged word. Most of all, she captures the ways in which poems make something possible that is separate from and beyond our daily reality ("[Poetry's] seeing is not our usual seeing, its hearing is not our usual hearing"). Locating the border realm between inner and outer, what is known and what can only be apprehended in the realm of verse, Hirshfield's lucid understanding is gripping and transformative itself, showing us at every turn how poems restore us to and expand our sense of a broader humanity.
A dazzling collection of essays on how the best poems work, from the master poet and essayist
-Poetry, - Jane Hirshfield has said, -is language that foments revolutions of being.- In ten eloquent and highly original explorations, she unfolds and explores some of the ways this is done--by the inclusion of hiddenness, paradox, and surprise; by a perennial awareness of the place of uncertainty in our lives; by language's own acts of discovery; by the powers of image, statement, music, and feeling to enlarge in every direction. The lucid understandings presented here are gripping and transformative in themselves. Investigating the power of poetry to move and change us becomes in these pages an equal investigation into the inhabitance and navigation of our human lives.
Closely reading poems by Dickinson, Bashō, Szymborska, Cavafy, Heaney, Bishop, and Komunyakaa, among many others, Hirshfield reveals how poetry's world-making takes place: word by charged word. By expanding what is imaginable and sayable, Hirshfield proposes, poems expand what is possible. Ten Windows restores us at every turn to a more precise, sensuous, and deepened experience of our shared humanity and of the seemingly limitless means by which that knowledge is both summoned and forged.
About the Author
Jane Hirshfield is the author of eight books of poetry, including The Beauty; Come, Thief; After; and Given Sugar, Given Salt. She has edited and co-translated four books presenting the work of poets from the past and is the author of two major collections of essays, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry and Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World. Her books have been finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award and England's T. S. Eliot Prize; have been named best books of the year by The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Amazon, and England’s Financial Times; and have won the California Book Award, the Poetry Center Book Award, and the Donald Hall-Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry. Hirshfield has received fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Academy of American Poets. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Times Literary Supplement, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Harper's, Poetry, Orion, Discover, The American Poetry Review, McSweeney’s, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and seven editions of The Best American Poetry. A resident of Northern California since 1974, she presents her poems in universities, literary centers, and festivals throughout the United States and abroad. She is a current chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.