Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World

Overview

A dazzling collection of essays on how the best poems work, from the master poet and essayist
 
?Poetry,? Jane Hirshfield has said, ?is language that foments revolutions of being.? In ten eloquent and highly original explorations, she unfolds and explores some of the ways this is done?by the inclusion of hiddenness, paradox, and surprise; by a perennial awareness of the place of uncertainty in our lives; by language?s own acts of ...

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Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World

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Overview

A dazzling collection of essays on how the best poems work, from the master poet and essayist
 
“Poetry,” Jane Hirshfield has said, “is language that foments revolutions of being.” In ten eloquent and highly original explorations, she unfolds and explores some of the ways this is done—by the inclusion of hiddenness, paradox, and surprise; by a perennial awareness of the place of uncertainty in our lives; by language’s own acts of discovery; by the powers of  image, statement, music, and feeling to enlarge in every direction. The lucid understandings presented here are gripping and transformative in themselves. Investigating the power of poetry to move and change us becomes in these pages an equal investigation into the inhabitance and navigation of our human lives.

Closely reading poems by Dickinson, Bashō, Szymborska, Cavafy, Heaney, Bishop, and Komunyakaa, among many others, Hirshfield reveals how poetry’s world-making takes place: word by charged word. By expanding what is imaginable and sayable, Hirshfield proposes, poems expand what is possible. Ten Windows restores us at every turn to a more precise, sensuous, and deepened experience of our shared humanity and of the seemingly limitless means by which that knowledge is both summoned and forged.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
01/19/2015
Hirshfield, a poet and Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, ponders the value and function of poetry in 10 insightful essays. Following up on her earlier nonfiction book Nine Gates, Hirshfield delves into various works written across multiple styles and centuries. She begins with a perceptive lesson about the way a poet—and a poem—sees the world, later exploring the theme of “the hidden,” referring to both subterranean layers of meaning in a piece of writing and the protective concealments common in nature, in which, according to a biologist, “hiddenness is the default.” Elsewhere, Hirshfield shows how asking questions about poems, from Basho’s haiku to Walt Whitman’s American epics, can lead to answers about ourselves. In this vein, she tackles “American-ness” as it’s manifested in modern American poetry, concluding that our “culture created by immigration, by mobility of psyche and of body.” Hirshfield writes with a poet’s voice and imparts wisdom on nearly every page. In a particularly lucid selection, “Poetry and the Constellation of Surprise,” she explains how important it is that poetry transcend reason, because reason “cannot and does not encompass the whole of life.” Hirshfield’s in-depth tour of poetry and art leaves a lasting impression. (Mar.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385351058
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/17/2015
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 742,572

Meet the Author

JANE HIRSHFIELD is the author of eight books of poetry, including The Beauty; Come, Thief; After; and Given Sugar, Given Salt. She has edited and cotranslated four books presenting the work of poets from the past and is the author of two major collections of essays, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry and Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World. Her books have been finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award and England’s T. S. Eliot Prize; they have been named best books of the year by The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Amazon, and Financial Times; and they have won the California Book Award, the Poetry Center Book Award, and the Donald Hall–Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry. Hirshfield has received fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Academy of American Poets. Her poems appear in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Times Literary Supplement, Poetry, The New Republic, and seven editions of The Best American Poetry. A resident of Northern California since 1974, she is a current chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

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