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Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield was born in New York City. After receiving her BA from Princeton University in its first graduating class to include women, she did a year of farm labor, then went on to study for eight years at the San Francisco Zen Center, where she received lay ordination in the Soto Zen lineage in 1979; three of those years were spent in monastic practice at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, in the Ventana Wilderness. She has taught at U.C. Berkeley, the Bennington M.F.A Writing Seminars, and elsewhere, and was the 2013 artist in residence for a neuroscience research program at University of California San Francisco.

Hirshfield is the author of seven books of poetry, including Come, ThiefAfter, named a “best book of 2006″ by The Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and England’s Financial Times; and Given Sugar, Given Salt, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She has also edited and co-translated four books containing the work of spiritual poets of the past, including the groundbreaking anthology Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women. Her prose collection, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry has become a classic in the field. Hirshfield’s poetry has been called “radiant and passionate” by The New York Times Book Review, and has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poetry, The New Republic, Slate, Orion, Tricycle, and England’s Times Literary Supplement, as well as various textbooks, anthologies, and seven editions of The Best American Poetry. Regularly featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writers Almanac public radio program, Hirshfield has been the subject of two Bill Moyers PBS television specials and was a featured commentator in the often re-aired PBS documentary The Buddha.

Hirshfield’s many honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, The California Book Award, and the Academy of American Poets 2004 Chancellors’ Fellowship, an honor previously held by Elizabeth Bishop, William Carlos Williams, and Robert Frost. In 2012, she was named a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Long a resident of California, she is at work on two forthcoming books, a new collection of poems and a new book of essays, each to be published by Knopf in spring 2015.

Selected Bibliography

Come, Thief (2011)
The Heart of Haiku (2011)
After (2006)
Mirabai: Ecstatic Poems (trans. with Robert Bly) (2004)
Given Sugar, Given Salt (2001)
Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry (1997)
The Lives of the Heart (1997)
The October Palace (1994)
The Ink Dark Moon: Poems by Komachi and Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Japanese Court (trans. with Mariko Aratani) (1990)
Of Gravity & Angels (1988)
Alaya (1982)

Online Resources

Bio & poems at the Academy of American Poets
Spiritual Poetry: Ten Gates (Poetry Foundation)