Given Sugar, Given Saltby Jane Hirshfield
"As water given sugar sweetens, given salt grows salty, we become our choices," writes Jane Hirshfield in Given Sugar, Given Salt, her fifth and most expansive volume of poems to date. In poems complex in meaning yet clear in statement and depiction, Hirshfield explores questions of identity and aging, of the losses and gains of both connection and solitude, and of the increasing pressure of time in contemporary life. Whether meditating upon a button, the role of habit in our lives, or the elusive nature of our relationship to sleep, Hirshfield brings each subject into a surprising and magnified existence. In the breadth and honed beauty of her contemplations, and in the deep usefulness readers ascribe to her work in their own lives, Hirshfield has made a place of her own among American Poets.
About the Author:
Jane Hirshfield is a visiting poet at universities and literary centers nationwide on a regular basis. She was featured on tow Bill Moyers PBS specials in 1999 and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, the Poetry Center Book Award, and many other honors. Her poems have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Nation, The New Yorker, New Republic, and on Garrison Keillor's "Writer's Almanac" program. She lives in Mill Valley, CA.
Read an Excerpt
One day in that room, a small rat.
Two days later, a snake.
Who, seeing me enter,
whipped the long stripe of his
body under the bed,
then curled like a docile house-pet.
I don't know how either came or left.
Later, the flashlight found nothing.
For a year I watched
as something terror? happiness? grief?
entered and then left my body.
Not knowing how it came in,
Not knowing how it went out.
It hung where words could not reach it.
It slept where light could not go.
Its scent was neither snake nor rat,
neither sensualist nor ascetic.
There are openings in our lives
of which we know nothing.
the belled herds travel at will,
long-legged and thirsty, covered with foreign dust.
Meet the Author
The author of five previous poetry collections and a book of essays, Jane Hirshfield has been a finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle Award and England’s T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, and she is the winner of the Poetry Center Book Award, the California Book Award, and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, The Nation, the Los Angeles Times, and multiple volumes of The Best American Poetry and Pushcart Prize anthologies.
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