Edward Hirsch Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Although Edward Hirsch built his literary reputation on the basis of his stately neo-Romantic poetry, he widened his reading audience with the publication of two collections of essays in 1999. Responsive Reading is a collection of essays and book reviews analyzing the work of internationally renowned artists (mostly writers) who influenced Hirsch’s development as a poet. The best seller How to Read a Poem, and Fall in Love with Poetry is both an argument on behalf of the lyric as a significant mode of poetry and a textbook of poetic terms, movements, and subgenres. His The Demon and the Angel: Searching for the Source of Artistic Inspiration (2002) consists of essays on what moves artists to create their works. In Poet’s Choice (2006), Hirsch collected the columns on poetry that he wrote for The Washington Post Book World.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Edward Hirsch’s first books of poems, For the Sleepwalkers, received the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets (1983) and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University. His second book, Wild Gratitude, received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1986. His third and fourth books, The Night Parade and Earthly Measures, were listed as notable books of the year in The New York Times Book Review. In addition, Hirsch has received numerous awards and grants, including the Prix de Rome, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Grant. In 1998, he received an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2003, Hirsch became the president of the John Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. In 2009, he became a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Barker, Brian. “About Edward Hirsch.” Ploughshares 33, no. 1 (Spring, 2007): 213-219. Barker provides an overview of Hirsch’s life, from his early childhood in Chicago to his post as president of the John Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Ferguson, Suzanne. “’Spots of Time’: Representation of Narrative in Modern Poems and Paintings.” In Word and Image: A Journal of Verbal/Visual Enquiry. London: Basingbroke, 1988. Ferguson discusses the Romantic epiphany “spots of time” and its relationship to the still life in the paintings of the Dutch painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder, the American painter Edward Hopper, and the American poets William Carlos Williams and Hirsch.

Hirsch, Edward. “An Interview with Edward Hirsch.” Interview by Kevin Boyle. Chicago Review 41, no. 1 (1995): 19-27. Hirsch discusses the relationship of academia to his work, the procedures he employs when writing poetry, the problem of literary theory, and the twentieth century poets he admires.

_______. “The Question of Affirmation and Despair: Interview with Edward Hirsch.” Interview by Tod Marshall. Kenyon Review 22, no. 2 (2000): 54-69. Hirsch discusses his democratic ethos in relation to modern American poetry, the problem of transcendence in art and religion, and the influence of literary theory on contemporary poetry.

Hirsch, Edward, and Adam Zagajewski. “Edward Hirsch and Adam Zagajewski.” Partisan Review 66, no. 1 (1999): 70-77. In this conversation between the two poets Hirsch and Adam Zagajewski, set at a festival in honor of the Czech poet Czesaw Miosz, Hirsch and Zagajewski read poems of theirs influenced by Miosz.

Longenbach, James. “Poetry in Review—Edward Hirsch: Eating the World.” Yale Review 86, no. 3 (1998): 160-173. The author argues that On Love, represents a triumph of art over mortality as Hirsch’s aesthetic sensibility inhabits and transcends the various artists it honors.