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Nine Gates [Paperback]

5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: 8.30 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (Sep 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060929480
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060929480
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.8 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 414,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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


Essays on the nature of poetic understanding explore artistry, originality, and inward- and outward-looking perspectives, and discuss both Western and non-Western poetry. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Valuable and enjoyable not only for its insights to poetry, but because the writing itself is beautiful--lyric, poetic prose. Essays are lessons, and philosophical discussions, that teach in the best ways: directly, and by example.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A feat! 14 May 1999
By A Customer
In this wonderful book, Jane Hirshfield does more that invite you into the world of poetry - she opens gates to all of creativity here.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ......and much more than poetry 4 Jan 1999
By A Customer
The clearest course in the integration of words and the world via what Anne Carson calls "the cherrying of the mind".
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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nine Brilliant Essays 9 Dec 2000
By James Hiller - Published on Amazon.com
Jane Hirshfield is either a genius or a fool. To even attempt such an undertaking, to explore the "mind of poetry" is quite an insurmountable task, the Mount Everest of literature. I opt for the former description, based on my reading of "Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry".
Rich, eloquent, heady, beautiful, Hirshfield attempts to explore what I assumed to be an unexplorable realm, the heart and essence of this muse. Each essay is not only brilliant, but manages to autopsy several regions that poetry encompasses in a respectful and honest way. Her first essay, "Poetry and the Mind of Concentration", is a tour de force in and of itself, the rest of the book follows suit. She uses some of the finest poetry at her disposal to bring credence to her commentary.
For a poetry writer, for a poetry lover, if you read Jane Hirshfield's book, "Nine Gates", you'll leave it forever changed in the way you approach the gift of poetry.
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding the Heart of Poetry 9 July 2003
By Mark Forrester - Published on Amazon.com
Jane Hirshfield's "Nine Gates" is probably the most interesting and insightful book I have read on the art and uses of poetry. While Hirshfield's approach to poetry is very much informed by (and often illustrated through) her knowledge of Asian arts and Buddhist philosophy, one need not be a Buddhist or a scholar to understand and appreciate her vision. Hirshfield is most interested in approaching poets and poetry through the essential work that they perform by helping us to understand the natures of, and the relationships between, the self and the world (that is, community in its largest sense). The book's argument is hardly as abstract or fanciful as this might sound, however. Instead, Hirshfield uses this approach to show how the most basic elements of poetry (rhythm, rhyme, image, and so on) function to help the poem build its meaning and fulfill its purpose. "Nine Gates" is an excellent book to strengthen your ability to read poetry, and to deepen your understanding and appreciation of this vital art.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eloquent musings 25 Oct 2000
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Jane Hirshfield's "Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry" is one of those books that would serve a very broad audience if only intrinsic worth were the driver for PR. For all the "self help" books that that drop on and off the Best Seller List like theatre popcorn, this sharing of what many would deem an obsolete facet of mental exercise is simultaneously a gift to writers AND a guide to experiencing communication in more ways than poetry. Hirshfield is a gifted poet and her comforting and immensely helpful insights will aid even the most "blocked" poet. She addresses "originality", finding the way toward ethereal concentration, adroitly answers begging questions regarding translation of poems in other languages......all with the most sensitive excerpts of poetry imaginable to illustrate her points. This little tome is not only for the writing poets, it is for those who wish to understand the mystery of the meaning of poetry.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the kindest books to reread... 20 Jun 2005
By Cerulean - Published on Amazon.com
...sometimes we need a personal classic to draw comfort from.

This past year when both grandmothers passed away, the soft voice of poetic comparison helped ease the heart.

In my small opinion, this is an inspired and gentle voice to turn to and read. And also reread.

I hope you also enjoy this reading experience.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Building a solid nest from the strands 18 May 2003
By Robert H. Nunnally Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Essays by poets vary widely in scope. Some seek to portray the "revolutionary" nature of the poet's ideas. Others get lost in craft or in the needless pedantry concerning schools of poetics. Jane Hirshfield instead presents the coherent well-written prose of a synthesist. The result provides an effective rumination upon the "mind" (or "spirit") of poetry.
Ms. Hirshfield uses literary and religious allusion freely, but this is no glib new age-ish miracle cure about the artist's "mystic journey". Instead, she uses the symbols of faith and skepticism as a rich metaphoric base to try to explore the goal and inner working of the effort to write a poem.
This work does not pretend to be some Quran of poetics, complete unto itself or changeless. Instead, the author surveys her task like a visitor to the crater of diamonds park, hunting for something shining among the crystal.
What I like about this book is that for all its rich allusion and reflections on symbolism, it's an accesible, affirming and non-saccharine take on why we are poets, and what it means to us.
My only quibble with her work is that the influence of eastern thought on the western American poets comes through much more clearly than the effect of the American experience on these same poets.In the poetry I read, Sandburg, Millay, and Forche spring from very different places with radically different voices, and yet each has an "American" tone that is unmistakable. It's not a matter of "nationalism" per se, but a matter of history and the lasting impression of the American experience. It's not a fault of the book at all, but a perspective I missed.
I think this is a great book to own for anyone who has pondered the "big questions" of poetry--what does it mean? why do I write?
In the abstract, an essay on poetic philosophy sounds filled with dull pretension. This book is anything but dull.
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