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Edward Hirsch

Edward Hirsch is the author of eight books of poems, most recently The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems (Knopf, 2010). His previous books include Special Orders(Knopf, 2008) and Poet’s Choice (Harcourt, 2006), a collection of his columns for theWashington Post Book World. He is the president of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.


Fully Loaded: The Poetry of Celia Dropkin

Spring 2014 | Essays

Celia Dropkin’s poems are erotically frank and emotionally unabashed, deeply engendered, relentlessly truthful. Like songs, they are terse and musical and carefully constructed to explode with maximum impact. They reveal the relationships between women and men in a way that was unprecedented in Yiddish literature.

Dark Refusals: The Poetry of Tadeusz Rozewicz

Spring 2010 | Essays

Tadeusz Różewicz is a poet of dark refusals, hard negations. He is a naked or impure poet (“I crystallize impure poetry,” he writes), an anti-poet relentlessly, even ruthlessly determined to tell the truth, however painful it may be. He scorns the idea of the poet as prophet and speaks from the margins—a stubborn outsider. “A poet is one who believes / and one who cannot,” he declares. He dwells in uncertainties and doubts, in the insecure, gray areas of life—skepticism is his native mindset—and strips poetry down to its bare essentials: words alone on a page. He is bracingly clear and shuns the floridities—the grand consolations—of the traditional lyric. 

Growing into the Psalms: The Poetry of Jirí Orten

Summer 2007 | Essays
I have been born on this earth for nothing else except to bear witness,
tied down by my weight, my heaviness, and my lightness.

Jiří Orten is one of the key Czech poets of the twentieth century. He belongs with his brilliant predecessors, František Halas, Vítězslav Nezval, and Jaroslav Seifert, and with other great poets from the war-torn precincts of Eastern Europe, such as Miklós Radnóti from Hungary and Zbigniew Herbert from Poland. Thanks to the good offices of Lyn Coffin, his devoted translator, I have been reading his poems for more than twenty-five years now, and I consider him one of the necessary poets from the first half of the century just past. He is a sustaining presence.

A Clear Midnight

Spring 2005 | Essays

Midnight: the witching hour, a haunted time, moment of epiphany. It is at this moment that our swaggering national bard, epic chanter of democracy, becomes a tender and delicate solitary, who addresses something wordless and imperishable inside himself, which he would free and let roam in the world.