Poetry &: An Afternoon Poetry Masterclass

With Jane Hirshfield


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Author : Registrar Rowe
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Check out Jane Hirshfield’s interview, No Part of Existence is Discardable, and her poem, Let Them Not Say.

Poems speak to, question, investigate, expand upon, encompass real things. They hold outer events and inner life, realms of feeling and thought, past history and imaginable futures. They honor both facts and mystery, both the wholeness and the perplexities of our lives. They engage the entire community of beings and things in one ranging, life-long-continuing conversation. This afternoon online masterclass will focus on the poem as an act of connection and inter-connection. It’s called Poetry & because a poem is not bottled wine stored in a cellar, it is a transforming engagement with life that is both within and beyond its own words. How this happens, in any particular poem, will vary. That it happens, though, is what makes a poem a poem.

This three-hour Zoom program will be primarily generative, with invitations for each person to approach their own this-moment subjects through various gates of strategy and poem-craft. The hope is that participants will leave with a set of poem-starts (like the young plants you might bring home from a garden center) and also with a set of new possibilities for writing as you go forward. There’ll be time for group conversation and craft questions as well.

Suggested but entirely optional preparatory reading: Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World, by Jane Hirshfield (NY: Knopf, 2015).

Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield’s nine poetry books include Ledger (March, 2020); The Beauty, long-listed for the 2015 National Book Award; Given Sugar, Given Salta finalist for the 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award; and Aftershort-listed for England’s T.S. Eliot Award and named a “best book of 2006” by The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, and England’s Financial Times. Her two collections of essays, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry (1997) and Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World (2015), have become classics in their field, as have her four books collecting and co-translating the work of world poets from the past: The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of JapanWomen in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by WomenMirabai: Ecstatic Poems; and The Heart of Haiku, on Matsuo Basho, named an Amazon Best Book of 2011. 

Jane’s work appears in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Review of Books, Poetry, and ten editions of The Best American Poetry. In 2004, she 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 of American Poets. In 2017, in conjunction with reading to an estimated 50,000 people on the Washington Mall at the first March For Science, she co-founded Poets For Science, housed with the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University. In 2019, she was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Science.