“Tender and unflinching . . . Hirsch balances heartfelt elegy with a celebration of the everyday. In these 48 poems of sensory remembrance, any door might open on the past . . . While later poems address Hirsch’s loss of eyesight, giving resonance to the collection’s title, readers will be grateful that the poet’s inner eye remains as observant and compassionate as ever.” —Publishers Weekly

Pages: 80 pages
Publisher: Knopf (February 11, 2020)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0525657781

In his seventieth year, the award-winning poet looks back on what was and accepts what is, in a deeply moving and beautiful sequence about what sustains him.

Beginning with “My Friends Don’t Get Buried,” the lament of a delinquent mourner as his friends have begun to die, and ending with the plaintive note to self “don’t write elegies/anymore,” Edward Hirsch takes us backward through the decades in these memory poems of startling immediacy. He recalls the black dress a lover wore when he couldn’t yet know the tragedy of her burning spirit; the radiance of an autumn day in Detroit when his students smoked outside, passionately discussing Shelley; the day he got off late from a railyard shift and missed an antiwar demonstration. There are direct and indirect elegies to lost contemporaries like Mark Strand, William Meredith, and, most especially, his longtime compatriot Philip Levine, whom he honors in several poems about daily work in the late midcentury Midwest. As the poet ages and begins to lose his peripheral vision, the world is “stranger by night,” but these elegant, heart-stirring poems shed light on a lifetime that inevitably contains both sorrow and joy.

MULTIMEDIA

#ShelterinPoetry with Edward Hirsch with The Westport Public Library

Learn why poetry is well-suited for isolating times.

5×15 Stories: Edward Hirsch

“Poetry exists in a relationship so that it can speak to your interior life. That’s why I believe that reading is relationship.” In this 2019 5×15 Stories video, Edward Hirsch, whose latest collection Stranger by Night is out now from Knopf, speaks about the craft of writing poems and how “poetry exists to inspire the reader.”

EDITORIAL REVIEWS

From Publishers Weekly

With this tender and unflinching 10th collection, Hirsch (Gabriel) balances heartfelt elegy with a celebration of the everyday. In these 48 poems of sensory remembrance, any door might open on the past: “Yesterday I climbed the stairs/ and took the ‘L’/ to 1965 /where I was stuck/ in the heart/ of downtown Chicago.” While offering tributes to Mark Strand, William Meredith, and Phillip Levine, Hirsch’s speakers are ready to “let someone else/ stumble past the mausoleum/ and grieve/ under the calm shade.” Hirsch is interested in capturing ephemeral flashes of human vitality with a lyricism that rises from unadorned eyewitness. Yet his reportage is often framed in ironic negation: “Don’t hitchhike/ the Mediterranean coast/ of Algeria/ in the summer of 1971/ with only a worn copy/ of The Plague to guide you.” In another poem, he remembers a chance encounter with a skyscraper window washer (“I felt oddly gleeful/ when I saw him later/ coming off the job safely/ in street clothes, walking on ground”). While later poems address Hirsch’s loss of eyesight, giving resonance to the collection’s title, readers will be grateful the poet’s inner eye remains as observant and compassionate as ever. (Feb.) —Publishers Weekly

From Guernica Mag

The poet discusses insomnia, civility (or the lack thereof) in cities, and losing his sight. Read more

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