The 2015-2016 Visiting Writers Series continues with a reading by award-winning poet and prose writer Edward Hirsch on Tuesday, November 17 at 4:30 p.m. in Wilson Hall Auditorium on Monmouth University’s campus.
Edward Hirsch is the author of nine collections of poetry and five prose books. His first collection, 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. In 1986, Hirsch won the National Book Critics Award for his second collection, Wild Gratitude. Other poetry collections include The Night Parade (1989), Earthly Measures (1994), On Love (1998), Lay Back the Darkness (2003), Special Orders (2008), and The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems (2010), which comprises 35 years of poems. Hirsch’s most recent collection Gabriel: A Poem (2014) is a book length elegy that is included in the National Book Foundation’s 2014 National Book Award Longlist for Poetry.
Born in 1950 in Chicago, Hirsch was educated at Grinnell College and the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a Ph.D. in folklore. His first books contain vignettes of urban life and numerous tributes to artists, which, according to David Wojahn in the New York Times Book Review, “begin as troubled meditations on human suffering [but] end in celebration.” New Republic contributor Jay Parini wrote that in For the Sleepwalkers, “Hirsch inhabits, poem by poem, dozens of other skins. He can become Rimbaud, Rilke, Paul Klee, or Matisse, in each case convincingly.” Hirsch uses other voices in later works like On Love (1998). Taking on the personae of dozens of poets from the past, including diverse writers like D.H. Lawrence, Charles Baudelaire, and Jimi Hendrix, Hirsch creates an imaginary conversation between them as they discuss the subject of love.
Described by Peter Stitt in Poetry as “a poet of genuine talent and feeling,” Hirsch has transformed the quotidian into poetry in his own work, as well as demonstrated his adeptness at explicating the nuances and shades of feeling, tradition, and craft at work in the poetry of others. Introducing Hirsch at the National Arts Club, Pulitzer Prize winning author Jhumpa Lahiri remarked: “The trademarks of his poems are things I strive to bring to my own writing: to be intimate but restrained, to be tender without being sentimental, to witness life without flinching, and above all, to isolate and preserve those details of our existence so often overlooked, so easily forgotten, so essential to our souls.” “I would like to speak in my poems with what the Romantic poets called ‘the true voice of feeling,'” Hirsch told Contemporary Authors. “I believe, as Ezra Pound once said, that when it comes to poetry, ‘only emotion endures.'”
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. 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 is now president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
Monmouth University’s Center for the Arts Visiting Writers Series brings the most celebrated poets and authors from around the world (Andrei Codrescu, Colm Tóibín, Adam Zagajewski,) and our own back yard (Long Branch’s own US Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky) to the beautiful auditorium of the University’s centerpiece, historic Wilson Hall. With our Visiting Writers Series, we hope the audience will experience a renewed sense of their relationship to poetry and fiction, to language, and to be moved emotionally by that writer’s representation of what it means to be a human being, whether that experience is one of joy, celebration, longing, or sorrow.
For additional information, please contact the director of the Visiting Writers Series, Michael Thomas at 732-263-5635 or visit online at www.monmouth.edu/arts.