Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry

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$18.00  $16.74
Harper Perennial
Publish Date
5.3 X 7.9 X 0.6 inches | 0.4 pounds

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About 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.


"[Hirshfield's] nine essays, or "gates," range a wide territory, in often strikingly beautiful language, to consider such objects as concentration, prosody, translation, poetry's roots as an oral art form, and the importance of shadow to art and spiritual life." -- Publishers Weekly

"A cross between a reader's guide to poetry and a how-to guide for would-be poets, Hirshfield's collected essays on poetic understanding read like a series of vigorous, well-documented university guest lectures...With her feet firmly planted in both the Western and Eastern canons, Hirshfield delivers a thorough and timely collection on our relationships to poetry, our relationship to the world and everything in between." -- Publishers Weekly

"In the outstanding and lucid critical essays in Nine Gates, Hirshfield proves that she, like all good poets, is a gifted reader . . . Happily, this enlightening volume does exactly what Hirshfield hoped it would: it intensifies our response to poetry, hence to life." -- Booklist (starred)

"Jane Hirshfield dares to write about the mysteries of art, and she approaches them in a way that feels exactly right to me: plainly, reverently, intelligently. She respects subject matter and gives due weight to both past masters and her own intuition. The result is rare and fine: a collection of essays combining the richness of a daybook with the pointed quality of a good lecture." -- Robert Pinsky, Poet Laureate of the United States

"These expansive, fearless essays are on the basics of--not poesy in any small sense--but mind, wit, stalking, silky focus, the eros of knowledge, the steely etiquette of art. For those who want it, here's guidance toward the power of being in the margin, the calm ease of the center." -- Gary Snyder, author of Mountains and Rivers Without End

"With the exactitude of a surgeon and the sensuous attention of a chef, Hirshfield addresses, essay by essay, the art, craft, and act of making poetry . . . These essays are both brilliantly ambitious--one random passage in her last piece, on 'writing and the threshold life, ' flows 14th-century Japanese poet Ono no Komachi (whose poems she has translated in the past) into Czeslaw Milosz into Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman--and confidently clear." -- Village Voice

"These expansive, fearless essays are on the basics of-not poesy in any small sense-but mind, wit, stalking, silky focus the eros of knowledge, the steely etiquette of art. For those who want it, here's guidance toward the power of being in the margin, the calm ease of the center." -- Gary Snyder