Jane Hirshfield is a visionary, profoundly original 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 indispensable to many American readers in navigating their own lives.
Following the publication of her retrospective Each Happiness Ringed by Lions: Selected Poems in 2005, Bloodaxe has published Jane Hirshfield's later collections in the UK: After (2006), a Poetry Book Society Choice which was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, Come Thief (2012), The Beauty (2015) and Ledger (2020).
The Beauty opens with a series of poems exploring both the profundities and the quirks of our shared human existence. She draws intimate meaning from multiple realms: science, culture, language itself, and above all the luminous materials and minutely particular emotions of daily life. In their robust negotiation with fate and justice, these clear and moving poems open a new and steepened understanding of our lives’ full measure of losses, knowledge, and loves.
'...meditations you can reread forever.’ - Lee Hall, Independent, Best Summer Reads 2015
‘The opening sequence that begins with ‘My Skeleton’ is extraordinary…Hirshfield’s poetry is metaphorical, delicately but also robustly conceived…’ – Jay Ramsay, Caduceus
‘'The poem carries love and terror, or it carries nothing.' That line is from a poem [from Each Happiness Ringed by Lions] by the American poet Jane Hirshfield, and it's been a kind of guiding principle for me as a poet. What I love about Jane’s poems is they always make me suddenly remember the strangeness of being alive, often in quite a shocking way. The images are so playful and chewy and enjoyable, and yet the stakes are always life and death.’ – Caroline Bird, BBC Radio 4, Terrifying Verse
Jane Hirshfield reads seven poems
Jane Hirshfield reads seven poems from Each Happiness Ringed by Lions: Selected Poems (2005) and After (2006): ‘Pyracantha and Plum’, ‘The Envoy’, ‘The Poet’, ‘The Weighing’, ‘Burlap Sack’, ‘Tree’ and ‘It Was Like This: You Were Happy’. Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed Jane Hirshfield in London in October 2006 when she was visiting London to read at Poetry International. This film is from the DVD-anthology In Person: 30 Poets, filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce & edited by Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2008).
North America: Alfred A. Knopf