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Hiddenness, Uncertainty, Surprise: Three Generative Energies of Poetry (Newcastle/Bloodaxe Poetry) [Paperback]

Jane Hirshfield
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Book Description

10 Mar 2008 Newcastle/Bloodaxe Poetry
In this innovative series of public lectures at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, leading contemporary poets speak about the craft and practice of poetry to audiences drawn from both the city and the university. The lectures are then published in book form by "Bloodaxe", giving readers everywhere the opportunity to learn what the poets themselves think about their own subject. Jane Hirshfield examines the roles of hiddenness, uncertainty and surprise as they appear in poetry and other works of literature, in the life and psyche of the writer, and in the broader life of the culture as a whole. POETRY AND HIDDENNESS: THOREAU'S HOUND: Explorations of hiddenness go back to the beginning of literature. There is no paradise, no place of true completion, that does not include within its walls the unknown. In this lecture, Hirshfield explores the centrality and necessity of hiddenness in our lives, and elucidates both the uses of hiddenness and hidden meanings in the work of writers ranging from Homer to Cavafy, from Auden to Jack Gilbert. POETRY AND UNCERTAINTY: To be human is to be unsure, and if the purpose of poetry is to deepen the humanness in us, poetry will be unsure as well. This lecture illuminates the ways uncertainty - in poems, and in life - allows both broadened feeling and enlarged knowledge. Translations are central to this talk, which includes poems by Izumi Shikibu, Anna Swir, Fernando Pessoa and Paul Celan. POETRY AND THE CONSTELLATION OF SURPRISE: Poems preserve their inaugural newness in part because they are like the emotions - not object, but experience, event. Poems that last are those that do not lose the power to astonish. This lecture examines surprise as a central, unrecognised fulcrum of great poems. Three poems are then looked at in detail by Hirshfield as test-cases: "Ithaka" by C.P. Cavafy, "Oysters" by Seamus Heaney and "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Robert Frost.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Bloodaxe Books Ltd (10 Mar 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852247975
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852247973
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13.4 x 0.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 552,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jane Hirshfield's most recent book is COME, THIEF (Bloodaxe, 2012/Knopf 2011). Her previous book, AFTER (Bloodaxe, 2006/HarperCollins, 2006), was a Poetry Book Society Choice Selection and finalist for the T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize. It was named a best book of 2006 by the Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the Financial Times. In 2005, Bloodaxe published EACH HAPPINESS RINGED BY LIONS: Selected Poems, which includes work from Hirshfield's first five U.S. poetry collections. She is also the author of HIDDENNESS, UNCERTAINTY, SURPRISE: THREE GENERATIVE ENERGIES IN POETRY, in the Bloodaxe Lecture Series (Bloodaxe/Newcastle University, 2007), and in the US a now-classic earlier collection of essays, NINE GATES: ENTERING THE MIND OF POETRY (HarperCollins, 1997). In 2011 she published an Amazon Kindle Single, THE HEART OF HAIKU, introducing the 17th century Japanese poet Basho and the 17-syllable poetic form he singlehandedly transformed into a brief word-vessel able to hold immense, varied, and subtle meanings.

Considered one of the foremost U.S. poets of her generation, Jane Hirshfield grew up in New York City and was part of the first class of women to graduate from Princeton University in 1973. She did a year of farm labor, then spent 8 years in the full time study of Zen Buddhism, including three years of monastic practice. Her poems began appearing regularly in magazines in the early 1980s, and have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, Poetry, The American Poetry Review, and seven editions of The Best American Poems; in the UK, her poems have appeared in The Times Literary Supplement (TLS), The Poetry Review, The Guardian, Poetry London, The Glasgow Herald, and elsewhere.

Hirshfield has taught at U.C. Berkeley, the Bennington MFA Writing Seminars, and elsewhere, but is not a full time academic. She lives in a small white cottage on the hem of Mount Tamalpais in the San Francisco Bay Area and appears frequently in literary festivals and writers conferences both in the U.S. and abroad, including in the UK Poetry International, Aldeburgh, StAnza, Ledbury, and serving as the first International Poet in Residence for the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere. She is a current Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Product Description

About the Author

Jane Hirshfield was born in 1953 in New York and lives in northern California. Her first book of poetry published in the UK was Each Happiness Ringed by Lions: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2005), which draws on her collections Alaya (1982), Of Gravity & Angels (1988), The October Palace (1994), The Lives of the Heart (1997) and Given Sugar, Given Salt (2001). Her latest collection, After (Bloodaxe Books, 2006), is a Poetry Book Society Choice and was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. Jane Hirshfield edited the bestselling anthology Women in Praise of the Sacred (1994), and co-translated The Ink Dark Moon: Poems by Ono No Komachi and Izumi Shikibu (1988) - another bestseller in the States - and, with Robert Bly, Mirabai: Ecstatic Poems (2004). Her own poetry was translated into Polish by Czeslaw Milosz, who also wrote the introduction to her Polish Selected Poems. She has won numerous literary awards.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Satori and surprise in poetry 25 July 2011
Format:Paperback
Rhetorics has been the backbone of Western poetry for centuries. Poets and sophists met each other often going out on the razzle in Athens, in Rome, in Constantinople until they were declared personae non gratae, that is, disliked gents by Saint Agustine, for instance, and so the Christian Church, Catholic or Orthodox, highlighted that there was a nexus between poetry and the evil genius. It was never the case under the umbrella of Buddhism and Taoism and so Zen meditation practice has been the backbone of poetry for centuries in China, Japan, Korea or Vietnam. Meditation and attention were linked together, not in Europe, not in Westen culture where many poets have been minstrels or preachers. Jane Hirshfield knows very well the Zen poetic tradition in Asia and in California and the first essay in her book Nine Gates: entering the mind of poetry correlates poetry and the mind of concentration. The first lecture summarized in this new book is on Hiddenness as the foundation of poetry, that is Mysticism and what is meant by ineffable experiences in life, that pivot point of said and unsaid. It is a joy to be hidden, but it is a disaster not to be found. Zen poets are read and suggest the readers how to find out what they are looking for. The second lecture deals with the issue of uncertainty, and so divination, what poets do and economists do. Beyondism is the religion of gamblers and scientists, also of politicians and business men and women. They may learn a lot if they get used to read poetry more often. The third lecture discloses the role of surprise in good poetry. Read more ›
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional writing 24 Mar 2013
By C. Paidhrin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is small, expensive, hard to find, and any ten pages is worth the cost of the book. Poets, writers and readers will find mastery in these words and images.

This is exceptional writing.
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