Iconic poet Jane Hirshfield addresses the urgent immediacies of our time in her long-awaited The Asking, which assays the full ranges of our shared and borrowed lives: our bonds of eros and our responsibilities to the planet; the singing dictions and searchlight dimensions of perception; the willing plunge into an existence both perishing and beloved, recognized in these poems as dazzling, “even now, even here.”
All Poetry Series, Create Your Own Series, and Super SAL subscribers receive a copy of The Asking, shipped to their doors by our partner bookstore, Open Books. Please note: complimentary subscriptions and single tickets do not include the book.
The Asking takes its title from the closing line of one of its newly appearing poems: “don’t despair of this falling world, not yet didn’t it give you the asking.” In its substantial section of new work, Jane Hirshfield continues her signature affirmation of the central contradictions, uncertainties, and harvests of astonishment that shape our human lives.
A forefront spokesperson for the biosphere and the alliance of science and imagination, Hirshfield offers, as indispensable compass, the choice to embrace what comes. In poems of the smallest ant and the vastness of time, of hunger and bounty, physics, war, and love in myriad forms, these pages—drawn from nine books and five decades of writing—bring the insights and slant-lights that come to us only through poems: through questioning arc, tact, a looking both close and sweeping; through music-inflected pondering, recombinatory leap.
In an era of algorithm, assertion, silo, and induced distraction, Hirshfield’s poems bring a much-needed awakening response, actively countering narrowness. Interrogating language itself, pondering beauty amid bewilderment and transcendence amid transience, Hirshfield invites shimmering truths into black ink. With quietly magnifying brushwork and numinous clarity, The Asking expands our awareness of both breakage’s grief and the abiding possibility for repair.
Jane Hirshfield is the author of ten collections of poetry and two now-classic collections of essays on poetry’s deep workings, and the editor of four co-translated books presenting world poets from the deep past. Hirshfield is one of American poetry’s central spokespersons for concerns about the biosphere and interconnection.
Her honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations and from the Academy of American Poets; the Poetry Center Book Award and the California Book Award; her books have been long- and finalist-listed for the National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, and England’s T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry. Her work, translated into seventeen languages, appears in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, and ten editions of The Best American Poetry. A former chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2019.