Jane Hirshfield interviewed on BBC Radio 4

Jane Hirshfield interviewed on BBC Radio 4


'These poems, new and selected over decades, have not wandered far from their eternal theme of being human. Hirshfield doesn’t veer away but hones in on the minutiae of everyday life [...] The world is heavy but the lightness of being is extraordinary in Hirshfield’s hand. However insignificant we are in size and time, her poems encourage us to live and celebrate.' – Roy McFarlane, PBS Selector, Poetry Book Society Spring Bulletin 2024, on The Asking: New & Selected Poems


American poet Jane Hirshfield has been published in the UK by Bloodaxe Books since 2005.  In March 2024 Bloodaxe published The Asking: New & Selected Poems (US, Knopf, 2023; UK, Bloodaxe Books, 2024), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. This draws upon books including her earlier UK retrospective, Each Happiness Ringed by Lions: New & Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2005), and four subsequent collections published by Bloodaxe in the UK: After (2006), Come, Thief (2012), The Beauty (2015) and Ledger (2020).

Jane Hirshfield launched her new retrospective The Asking online at Bloodaxe's joint reading and discussion event on 19 March 2024. Scroll down to view.  For details, see here.



The Poetry Detective: Poetry and Care, BBC Radio 4, Sunday 25 February 2024, 4.30pm

American poet Jane Hirshfield was interviewed for the new series of BBC Radio 4’s The Poetry Detective, a radio show about the poems that go with us through life, presented by poet Vanessa Kisuule.

Jane was speaking about her poem ‘The Weighing’, which is included in her 2005 retrospective Each Happiness Ringed by Lions as well as in her up-dated retrospective The Asking.  She began by reading the poem.

In very moving interviews, three people spoke about how much the poem means to them.  First of all was stroke-survivor Anna Zvegintzov who recovered her ability to write by copying out a poem every day - ‘The Weighing’ was the very first poem she copied out.  Then two intensive care doctors from Canada spoke about how the poem helped them at especially difficult times in their work during the pandemic.

‘We speak to stroke-survivor Anna Zvegintzov who is using poetry as an act of self-care and tool of recovery. And we meet two doctors working in intensive care for whom a poem became 'like a hymn'. Jane Hirshfield, the author of that poem - The Weighing - speaks to Vanessa about writing and care.’

No longer available on BBC Sounds, but details are below. Jane Hirshfield’s poem is discussed from 13:38. Jane reads her poem at 16:10, and speaks to Vanessa from 20:38.



Jane Hirshfield, Maria Stepanova, and Maria's translator Sasha Dugdale celebrated the publication of their new poetry books at an online reading for Bloodaxe Books. They read live and discussed their work with each other and with the host, Bloodaxe editor Neil Astley. The event also included readings of poems from the new Bloodaxe anthology Soul Feast, also published in March 2024 and which features four of Jane Hirshfield’s poems as well as Sasha Dugdale’s translation of a poem by Elena Shvarts.

This exceptionally interesting launch event was streamed on YouTube Live and is now available to watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uV8-QP8bdxg or by clicking on the arrow below.



2024 Blaney Lecture with Jane Hirshfield

Former Academy of American Poets Chancellor Jane Hirshfield delivers the 2024 Blaney Lecture on contemporary poetry and poetics.

Both poems and science are tools for making visible what was always there to be seen. Both also create new ways of seeing, feeling, knowing, living. Amid the crises, griefs, divisions, and losses of the current era, this talk explores a few examples of the ways that expansions of saying and knowing are also expansions of what might be possible, thinkable, doable.

Jane Hirshfield's latest book is The Asking: New & Selected Poems (US, Knopf, 2023; UK, Bloodaxe Books, 2024). Hirshfield was awarded the 2004 Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement by the Academy of American Poets.


Jane Hirshfield's ninth collection Ledger was published by Bloodaxe Books in March 2020.  It is a book of personal, ecological and political reckoning. Her poems inscribe a ledger personal and communal, a registry of our time's and lives’ dilemmas as well as a call to action on climate change, social justice and the plight of refugees. Ledger was published in the UK and Europe by Bloodaxe, and by Knopf in the US.



Beshara Magazine, Issue 20: Winter 2021/22, online 17 February 2022

Jane Hirshfield was interviewed in depth for Beshara Magazine. She was talking about her latest work and the role of poetry in these difficult times. Three poems from her ninth collection Ledger were featured in full: ‘My Debt’, ‘Ghazal for The End of Time’ and ‘Amor Fati’.

Read here.



On Being podcast, 16 December 2021

Jane Hirshfield was interviewed in great depth for the US podcast On Being. She was in conversation with On Being founder Krista Tippett.   Jane Hirshfield’s poetry is published in the UK by Bloodaxe Books and by Knopf in the US.  Her ninth collection  Ledger was published on 10 March 2020, just before everything came to a halt in response to the global pandemic. As Krista notes, many of the poems in the collection seem extraordinarily prescient. 

Jane read and spoke about her poems ‘The Bowl’, ‘Some Questions’ and ‘Cataclysm’ from  Ledger.  Krista read the first poem ‘Let Them Not Say’ near the beginning of the podcast, and then Jane read it again at end of the interview.  Jane also read 'My Species' from The Beauty (2015).

Jane Hirshfield: The Fullness of Things

'The esteemed writer Jane Hirshfield has been a Zen monk and a visiting artist among neuroscientists. She has said this: “It’s my nature to question, to look at the opposite side. I believe that the best writing also does this … It tells us that where there is sorrow, there will be joy; where there is joy, there will be sorrow … The acknowledgement of the fully complex scope of being is why good art thrills … Acknowledging the fullness of things,” she insists, “is our human task.” And that’s the ground Krista meanders with Jane Hirshfield in this conversation: the fullness of things — through the interplay of Zen and science, poetry and ecology — in her life and writing.'

Listen here.  A full transcript is also available via this link.

[26 February 2024]

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