Edward Hirsch is a celebrated poet and tireless advocate for poetry.
He was born in Chicago in 1950—his accent makes it impossible for him to hide his origins—and educated at Grinnell College and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a Ph.D. in Folklore. His devotion to poetry is lifelong. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, including a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award, a Pablo Neruda Presidential Medal of Honor, the Prix de Rome, and an Academy of Arts and Letters Award. In 2008, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
Edward Hirsch’s first collection of poems, For the Sleepwalkers (1981), received the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University and the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets. His second collection, Wild Gratitude (1986), won the National Book Critics Award.
Poetry is the social act of a solitary person. When you’re reading a poem you’re not alone with your own feelings. I have always found that comforting.
Since then, he has published eight additional books of poems: The Night Parade (1989), Earthly Measures (1994), On Love (1998), Lay Back the Darkness (2003), Special Orders (2008), The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems (2010), which brings together thirty-five years of poems, Gabriel: A Poem, a book-length elegy for his son (2014), and Stranger by Night (2020).
Hirsch is also the author of five prose books, including A Poet’s Glossary (2014), the result of decades of passionate study, Poet’s Choice (2006), which consists of his popular columns from the Washington Post Book World, and How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry (1999), a national bestseller. He is the editor of Theodore Roethke’s Selected Poems (2005) and co-editor of The Making of a Sonnet: A Norton Anthology (2008). He also edits the series “The Writer’s World” (Trinity University Press). His new book, 100 Poems to Break Your Heart, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the spring of 2021.
Edward Hirsch taught for six years in the English Department at Wayne State University and seventeen years in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston. He has been president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation since 2002.