A Gate Enables passage between what is inside and what is outside, and the connection poetry forges between inner and outer lives is the fundamental theme of these nine essays.
Nine Gates begins with a close examination of the roots of poetic craft in "the mind of concentration" and concludes by exploring the writer's role in creating a sense of community that is open, inclusive and able to bind the individual and the whole in a way that allows each full self-expression. in between, Nine Gates illumines the nature of originality, translation, the various strategies by which meaning unfolds itself in language, poetry's roots in oral memory and the importance of the shadow to good art.
A person who enters completely into the experience of a poem is initiated into a deeper intimacy with life. Delving into the nature of poetry, Jane Hirshfield also writes on the nature of the human mind, perception and experience. Nine Gates is about the underpinnings of poetic craft, but it is also about a way of being alive in the world--alertly, musically, intelligently, passionately, permeably.
In part a primer for the general reader, Nine Gates is also a manual for the working writer, with each "gate" exploring particular strategies of language and thought that allow a poem to convey meaning and emotion with clarity and force. Above all, Nine Gates is an insightful guide to the way the mind of poetry awakens our fundamental consciousness of what can be known when a person is most fully alive.
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Gary Snyder writes that Jane Hirshfield's essays have "a diamond-hard set of insights to share" about the nature of poetry. Hirshfield approaches poetry from a number of angles and discusses a wide-ranging body of work, including ancient Egyptian love poets, Allen Ginsberg, W. B. Yeats, Emily Dickinson, Stevie Smith, and Li Po. Hirshfield is also a fine poet, and this skill tempers her insights with humility: she knows she is attempting to explain the inexplicable, so she doesn't try to disentangle the mystery. Especially recommended is the engaging "Poetry and the Mind of Indirection."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.
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