Poet Jane Hirshfield to Read at Smith
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—The Poetry Center at Smith College will present Jane Hirshfield at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7, in Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall. Hirshfield’s reading will open the four-day conference “Women Practicing Buddhism: American Experiences,” which continues through April 10.
In addition to the reading, Hirshfield will discuss “Buddhism and Creativity” with another conference participant, composer, singer, director and choreographer Meredith Monk. Their live conversation, moderated by Pat O’Hara, takes place at 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 8, in the Helen Hills Hills Chapel. Both of these events, which are supported by the College’s Lecture Committee, are free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible.
Hirshfield’s poetry has been called “passionate and radiant” by The New York Times. Her work is an extension of a life both lived and examined, and her carefully crafted poems range from elegiac to joyful, reflective to restive. “At some point I realized that you don't get a full human life if you try to cut off one end of it, that you need to agree to the entire experience, to the full spectrum of what happens,” she says. “Everything I am and know and have lived goes into a poem.”
Of her most recent collection, “Given Sugar, Given Salt,” a finalist for the 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award, W.S. Merwin says, “These are poems of space, air and a remarkable precision of observation and revealed feeling.” The Antioch Review praises her ability to “renew [and] reaffirm the power of language to move deeply, to articulate experience precisely. She doesn’t try to discard the tradition, but to draw from it and extend it. Her poems are meant to endure.”
As a young adult, Hirshfield spent eight years in full-time Zen Buddhist practice before becoming a writer, translator and teacher. Meticulously crafted, layered with complexity but seeking clarity and awareness, her poems offer graceful and deliberate observations of the natural world and the emotional world.
The author of five collections of poems, Hirshfield has also edited and co-translated three poetry anthologies focusing on women’s spiritual lives, including “The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems” by Komachi & Shibibu. Her volume of essays “Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry,” in Robert Pinsky’s words, “approaches the poem in a way that feels exactly right to me: plainly, reverently, intelligently.”
Hirshfield’s many honors include fellowships from The Academy of American Poets and the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has taught widely, and served as guest poet at universities and conferences across the country. Featured on National Public Radio, as well as in two Bill Moyers PBS specials, Hirshfield makes her home in the San Francisco Bay area.
The reading will be followed by book-selling and signing. For further information, contact Cindy Furtek in the Poetry Center office at (413) 585-4891 or Ellen Doré Watson, director, at (413) 585-3368.
For additional information about the conference “Women Practicing Buddhism” call (413) 585-3679.
Office of College
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174
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