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Edward Hirsch
Photo credit: Julie Dermansky

Edward Hirsch

Edward Hirsch was born in Chicago on January 20, 1950 and educated both at Grinnell College and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a PhD in folklore.

His first collection of poems, For the Sleepwalkers (Knopf), was published in 1981 and went on to receive the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University. His second collection, Wild Gratitude (Knopf, 1986), received the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Since then, he has published several books of poems, most recently The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems (Knopf, 2011); Special Orders (Knopf, 2008); Lay Back the Darkness (Knopf, 2003); On Love (Knopf, 1998); Earthly Measures (Knopf, 1994); and The Night Parade (Knopf, 1989).

He is also the author of the prose volumes The Demon and the Angel: Searching for the Source of Artistic Inspiration (Harcourt, 2002), Responsive Reading (University of Michigan Press, 1999), and the national bestseller How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry (Harcourt, 1999), which the poet Garrett Hongo called "the product of a lifetime of passionate reflection" and "a wonderful book for laureate and layman both." Most recently, he published Poet's Choice (Harcourt, 2007), which collects two years' worth of his weekly essay-letters running in the Washington Post Book World.

About his poetry, the poet Dana Goodyear wrote for the Los Angeles Times Book Review, "It takes a brave poet to follow Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Milton into the abyss . . . Hirsch's poems [are] compassionate, reverential, sometimes relievingly ruthless."

Hirsch’s honors include an Academy of Arts and Letters Award, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award, a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award, the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

He has been a professor of English at Wayne State University and the University of Houston. Hirsch is currently the president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

In 2008, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. He lives in New York City.

Selected Bibliography


The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems (Knopf, 2011)
Special Orders (Knopf, 2008)
Lay Back the Darkness (Knopf, 2003)
On Love (Knopf, 1998)
Earthly Measures (Knopf, 1994)
The Night Parade (Knopf, 1989)
Wild Gratitude (Knopf, 1986)
For the Sleepwalkers (Knopf, 1981)


Poet's Choice (Harcourt, 2007)
The Demon and the Angel: Searching for the Source of Artistic Inspiration (Harcourt, 2002)
Responsive Reading (University of Michigan Press, 1999)
How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry (Harcourt, 1999)


From the Image Archive From the 2009 Poets Forum, October 17, 2009
Poems by
Edward Hirsch

A Greek Island
Amour Honestus
Fast Break
I'm Going to Start Living Like a Mystic
In Memoriam Paul Celan
Lay Back the Darkness
The Widening Sky
Veterans of Foreign Wars
What the Last Evening Will Be Like
Wild Gratitude

Prose by
Edward Hirsch

How to Read a Poem
The Unwritten Biography: Philip Levine and Edward Hirsch in Conversation
To Go Its Way in Tears: Poems of Grief
Video: "Who is the first poet you fell in love with?"
Video: Dictating the Form
Video: Hirsch & Dove on Political Poetry
Video: The Future of Poetry

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