Poetry: An Embodied Experience with Jane Hirshfield

More than the torrent of data and information that is coming from an increasingly polarized and rageful culture, it’s poetry that’s enlivening our hearts. It’s poetry that takes us to a grander landscape and leads us to the wholeness of things. It helps us stand from a vantage point that includes wonder and awe without denying the dangers and the challenges humanity faces. Here Hirshfield reveals how reading or reciting a poem, at its best, will take us beyond our analytical minds and lands us in an embodied experience. She sheds light on why so many people are turning to and writing poetry in these dark times. “Poetry exists to serve us when we are otherwise unable to hold the great, paradoxical, and enormously powerful currents of our lives in any other language. It exists to assist us through transition moments, through deaths, through falling in love, and weddings, through births, through the cataclysm of the current moment. And yes, more people are becoming aware of the fact that we are living inside a cataclysm.” She also talks of how poetry can help us meet the despair which inevitably rises up in us in the darkest moments. “[E]ven if there is nothing more you can do, if you can bring one word next to another . . . it will cut windows and doors in your despair and give you a way to walk back into the world with others.” (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)

Jane Hirshfield is an award-winning poet, essayist and translator. She’s the author of ten books of poetry and two collections of essays. She has edited and co-translated four books presenting the work of world poets from the past. Her books have received the Poetry Center Book Award, the California Book Award, and the Donald Hall-Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry. Her poems appear in a wide range of prestigious outlets. A resident of Northern California, she is a chancellor emerita of the Academy of American Poets. She presents her work at literary and interdisciplinary events worldwide. In 2017, in conjunction with the March for Science in Washington DC, she founded Poets for Science, an interactive exhibit of science poems and writing invitation housed at Kent State’s Wick Poetry Center, which has traveled to venues across the country.

Share This Episode