Jane Hirshfield is a visionary American writer whose poems ask nothing less than what it is to be human. Both sensual meditations and passionate investigations, they reveal complex truths in language luminous and precise. Rooted in the living world, her poems celebrate and elucidate a hard-won affirmation of our human fate. Born of a rigorous questioning of heart, spirit and mind, they have become indispensible to many American readers in navigating their own lives. Hers is a poetry of clarity and hybrid vigour, drawing deeply on English and American traditions but also those of world poetry. The poetries of modern and classical Greece, of Horace and Catullus, of classical China and Japan and Eastern Europe all resonate in Jane Hirshfield's structures of thought and in her sensibilities. Indelibly of our time yet seated in the lineage of poetic discovery, these poems are meant to endure.
'Jane Hirshfield is a poet very close to my heart' - wislawa szymborska 'Jane Hirshfield's poems praise the ceaseless mutability of life as its central splendor...with habits of perception quite different from what our poetry customarily offers' - william matthews 'These poems are at once deeply mature and unfailingly innocent; they are wise without ever being self-aggrandising; they are complex without ever being inaccessible. They are rich with observation that will reveal you to yourself. They are the kind of poems that could - before you even realise it - have quietly changed your life' - pam houston 'Hirshfield's verbal power lies in a stunning physicality and the seductively rich music that such physicality engenders. She writes for readers who have lived a little, that is to say, a lot; who have lost, and grieved, and know how painful the capacity to love can be' - kathleen Norris
jane hirshfield was born in 1953 in New York and lives in northern California. This selection draws her five collections Alaya (1982), Of Gravity & Angels (1988), The October Palace (1994), The Lives of the Heart (1997) and Given Sugar, Given Salt (2001). She edited the bestselling anthology Women in Praise of the Sacred (1994), and co-translated The Ink Dark Moon: Poems by Ono No Komachi and Izumi Shikibu (1988) - another bestseller in the States - and, with Robert Bly, Mirabai: Ecstatic Poems (2004). Her own poetry was translated into Polish by Czeslaw Milosz, who also wrote the introduction to her Polish Selected Poems. She has won numerous literary awards.