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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Feeling, questioning, writing experiences


“One reason to write a poem is to flush from the deep thickets of the self some thought, feeling, comprehension, question, music, you didn't know was in you, or in the world.” – Jane Hirshfield


American poet, essayist, and translator Hirshfield was born on this date in 1953.  A native New Yorker, she was among the first class of women to graduate from Princeton where she studied writing and started her career.  Since then, she has authored 8 award-winning books of poetry, a number of major translations, and countless essays.
Her book, Given Sugar, Given Salt, was a finalist                    
for the National Book Critics Circle Award and her collection, After, was shortlisted for the U.K.’s T.S. Eliot Prize and named a “Best book of 2006” by several major newspapers and journals.   Her book The Beauty was long-listed for the National Book Award and named a “Best book of 2015” by The San Francisco Chronicle.


“My job as a human being as well as a writer is to feel as thoroughly as possible the experience that I am part of, and then press it a little further,” she recently wrote.  For Saturday’s Poem, here is Hirshfield’s:

A Person Protests to Fate

A person protests to fate:

"The things you have caused
me most to want
are those that furthest elude me."

Fate nods.
Fate is sympathetic.

To tie the shoes, button a shirt,
are triumphs
for only the very young,
the very old.

During the long middle:

conjugating a rivet
mastering tango
training the cat to stay off the table
preserving a single moment longer than this one
continuing to wake whatever has happened the day before

and the penmanships love practices inside the body.


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