"Words are not the end of thought, they are where it begins," ends the first poem in After, Jane Hirshfields extended investigation into incarnation, transience, and our intimate connection with others and with all existence. These alert, incisive, and compassionate poems examine the human condition through subjects ranging from spareness, possibility, judgment, and hidden grief to global warming, insomnia, the meanings to be found in generally over-looked parts of speech, and the metaphysics of sneezing. In respective series of "assays" (meditative imaginative accountings) and "pebbles" (each a "brief, easily pocketable perception that remains incomplete until the readers own response awakens inside it"), Hirshfield explores a poetry-making that looks simultaneously outward and inward, finding resonant and precise containers for the deepest currents of our inner life.
After is also a book of elegies, both overt and implicit, both personal and culturally shared. Throughout sounds a bass-note awareness of time: its inexorable effects on our lives and the plunge into the moments richness that brings our singular, paradoxical recourse against its erasure. This is a profound, generous, and masterful sixth collection by one of the preeminent American poets of her generation.
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.
“...finely measured and carefully weighted poems...stirring new collection.”
-Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)