Poems by Jane Hirshfield

Poems by Jane Hirshfield


Jane Hirshfield’s poems have been described as “radiant and passionate” by The New York Times Book Review, “magnificent and distinctive” by The Irish Times, and “among the pantheon of the modern masters of simplicity” by The Washington Post. In Hirshfield’s work, science collaborates with art to explore the deepest matters of humanity and nature, a partnership that achieves transcendence in her ninth book of poetry, Ledger (Knopf 2020). Hirshfield’s last book, The Beauty (Knopf 2015), was longlisted for the National Book Award and named a best book of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Hirshfield is also a prolific translator and essayist; her most recent book of essays, Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World (Knopf 2015), is available hereHer honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, the Academy of American Poets, and the National Endowment for the Arts as well as the Donald Hall-Jane Kenyon Prize, and ten appearances in The Best American Poetry. Hirshfield’s poems appear in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times, Poetry, and widely elsewhere. The 2016 Mohr Visiting Poet at Stanford University and chancellor emerita of the Academy of American Poets, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. [Sources here and here] You can order Ledger here and Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World here.


Rebecca Foust, Poetry Editor

Readers, it is with a heavy but full heart that I am announcing here the end of my tenure as Editor of this weekly column, as of today. I started in the spring of 2015, nearly seven years ago, and it has been a great run: my running log shows 1636 pages of 622,895 wards comprising 300+ columns featuring women writers, including women of color and many others too often overlooked by conventional publishing. For me, each column was an exciting discovery and a lesson, not just in craft (though I was the lucky recipient of many lessons in craft) but also in the endurance and resilience of the human spirit. At times the deadlines came thick and fast and I doubted whether I would be able to keep up the commitment, but the support of others always carried me through. Without the sparkling contributions of guest editor Susan Cohen, many months would have been short a column, and we would not have read the work of Yiddish poets such as Celia Dropkin and many others. Without my brilliant co-editor Amanda Moore, this departure message would have come two and a half years sooner, and we would not have been able to include many BIPOC and other poets whose work was flying under my sometimes-limited radar. I am also ever grateful to WVFC editors Pat Allen and Grace Ali for bringing me on board, believing in me, always supporting my work, and seamlessly doing the hard technical part of getting my word documents onto the virtual page, and out to you.

Choosing which previous column to reprise for this last one was an impossible task, as I put my whole heart and mind into every column and loved doing them all. I ended up deciding on three columns featuring the work of Jane Hirshfield, one of my all-time favorite contemporary poets. The first link above is to a column that reviews Hirshfield’s last book, Ledger, released during the pandemic; the second features a poem written in the pandemic’s early days, “Today When I Could Do Nothing,” and the last features one of the best poems I’ve ever encountered, written during the early days of the Trump era, “Let Them Not Say.” I hope you will enjoy and appreciate this work as much as I have and continue to do.

Thank you for sharing this time on the planet with me, thank you for your eyes and ears and minds and attention and for the warm messages of appreciation that came regularly to buoy me up when I needed it most. Nearly all the columns are archived here and I hope some of you will visit them from time to time and remember the love and appreciation I tried to bring to the work of women poets “of a certain age”—and, dear readers, to you.



Rebecca Foust is the author of three chapbooks and four books including ONLY, forthcoming from Four Way Books in 2022, and her poems are widely published, in The Hudson Review, Narrative, Ploughshares, Poetry, Southern Review and elsewhere. Recognitions include the 2020 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry judged by Kaveh Akbar, the CP Cavafy and James Hearst poetry prizes, a Marin Poet Laureateship, and fellowships from The Frost Place, Hedgebrook, MacDowell, Sewanee, and West Chester Poetry Conference.



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  • Sally Ashton August 29, 2021 at 1:36 pm

    Dear Rebecca~
    Thank you for your faithful shepherding of so many women’s words, including mine. I know something of what it takes to keep such a venture alive and also the often enormous quietude of the internet’s ether after a project is launched–no popping of corks or collegial hugs! So little feedback to reassure your efforts. Rest assured, your work and words have made a difference for all of us, both as featured poets and appreciative readers. As women and, I would imagine, lucky men. I hope your next steps bring you much satisfaction.