Jane Hirshfield’s work has been called “passionate and radiant” by The New York Times. Her poetry 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.”

Jane Hirshfield is the author of seven collections of poetry, most recently Come, Thief (2011) and 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). Of 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, before becoming a writer, translator, Hirshfield spent eight years in full-time Zen Buddhist practice; that experience, and her ongoing Buddhist practice, has had profound effects on her work. Meticulously crafted, layered with complexity but seeking clarity and awareness, the poems offer graceful and deliberate observations of both the natural world and the emotional world. Hirshfield 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 NEA. She has taught widely, served as guest poet at universities and conferences across the country, and was featured on NPR as well as in two Bill Moyers PBS specials. She makes her home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Poems by Jane Hirshfield

In a Net of Blue and Gold

Salt Heart





Poetry Center Reading:

      Spring 2005  
    Fall 2011
    Click here for a video of her Reading in Fall of 2011