Conversations with Authors - Jane Hirshfield (Online Event)

Sunday, May 31, 2020 - 4:00pm


Conversations with Authors

Sun., May 31st, 2020 • 4:00pm PT• Live • Online

In conversation with Alison Gopnik



Conversations with Authors is our free online event series produced with Extended Session. Sign up once with your email address and gain access to all future conversations as well as all video archives.

 

We are so grateful to all the people in the Book Passage community, longstanding and new, who tuned in to our conversation (or rather, to this latest installment of what's now become a 20-year conversation). And we are so grateful also to Book Passage, to Elaine and her staff, and to ExtendedSession for conceiving of and making possible this extraordinary series of writers' conversations and inviting us in.

It's the gift of literature to shape-shift, to find a something to say and ways to speak in any weather and circumstance. When people can't gather in person, we can gather in ink—and now, in pixels, on screens. And we do. Because that's how our lives become larger than they could ever be without the dialogue books bring, without this big table, into which new leaves keep being added, where we banquet together on words, ideas, images, inventions, questions; on our momentary, shared stays against confusion.

Here's some suggestions for further reading that came up, some in our public conversation Sunday, some in the conversations we had leading up to it—

Mentioned in our conversation, some only briefly or just alluded to:

 Jane's list:

A few other books that are foreground for me these days:

  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
    • This is the book I reached for, in the hours immediately following George Floyd's death, and over the days of rising response to it. No voice, no thoughts, no fiercely accurate and capacious vision is more needed.
  • Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats
    • One poem uncannily apt for this time of both pandemic and political division is “The Stare's Nest by My Window,” a section of a longer work, “Meditations in A Time of Civil War.” Also, “Easter, 1916.” Both poems warn of the hardening of the heart that comes with division into partisan sides.
  • The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why It Matters by Sean B. Carroll.
    • We're living in an age of extraordinary writing about scientific developments—I offer this book as one example of a work that brings scientific concepts, and their discoveries' stories (in this case about keystone species, lambda repressors, and the balancing act that allows living beings and ecosystems to flourish), into pages a layperson can both understand and be thrilled by.
  • Figuring by Maria Popova
    • Another unparalleled book conveying the lives and spirits and expansion of knowledge and life brought to us by scientists. The reminder in this book of Rachel Carson's life, eloquence, observation, and world-altering gift to us all would, on its own, be completely fulfilling. (In our conversation, we referred to her Brainpickings.org newsletter, one of the great, sustaining reminders of collective wisdom in our time.)
  • Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of  Science, Faith, and Love by Dava Sobel and The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in An Age of Extinctions by David Quammen, are the two final masterworks of discovery-communication I'll offer here.
  • Selected Stories by Alice Munro
    • This is the book I'm about to reread, since it's the next choice up for my 20-year-running book group, made up of research scientists and a few random others. We read only fiction, plays, and poetry, mostly classics— Gilgamesh, Sophocles, Conrad, Melville, Chekhov, Austen, Borges, Auden, Whitman, Dickinson, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Virginia Woolf, Ralph Ellison, Tomas Transtromer, Elizabeth Bishop, Orhan Pamuk, Colson Whitehead, Helen DeWitt, Toni Morrison... The group has lasted long enough and changed enough over time in participants that this will be our second session with Alice Munro's stories—but this time, on the must-read list is her tour de force novella-length story, “The Albanian Virgin.”

Finally, two other books I know of (there are probably others) that share with my own new book Ledger the distinction of having been published on March 10, the exact day that our life in the U.S. seemed, to me and others, to change.


Alison's list:

  • Along with The Ink Dark Moon, another wonderful and surprisingly universal book from the same era, filled with observations as sharply true now as in Japan a thousand years ago is The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon:
  • For other examples of what in our conversations I called Nerd Valentines—work that combines science, philosophy, fiction and poetry—Jane and I have just been talking about the stories of Ted Chiang, collected in two books, Stories of Your Life and Others and Exhalation. “The Life Cycle of Software Objects,” in Exhalation, is among the best philosophical accounts of childhood and being a parent I know.
  • Map: Collected and Last Poems by Wislawa Szymborska
    • Among the poets Jane and I have talked of for years, the most frequent has been the great Polish poet, Wislawa Szymborska, whose work offers a model of work combining science, poetry, insight and politics across a long life, and troubled times.
  • Finally, I'll mention The Philosophical Baby, the one book of my own that we didn't mention by title. It's the book where I talk the most about childhood “lantern consciousness” and the contrast with adult “spotlight consciousness," which we touched upon.

 

THANK YOU ALL, please keep safe and well,

—Jane Hirshfield and Alison Gopnik

 

Location: 

Ledger: Poems Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780525657804
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf - March 10th, 2020

The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan (Vintage Classics) Cover Image
By Ono no Komachi, Izumi Shikibu, Jane Hirshfield (Translated by), Mariko Aratani (Translated by)
$17.00
ISBN: 9780679729587
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - October 3rd, 1990

Given Sugar, Given Salt: Poems Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780060959012
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - April 2nd, 2002

The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us About the Mind Cover Image
$16.99
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9780688177881
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - December 26th, 2000

The Act of Creation Cover Image
for information about purchasing this book, please contact orders@bookpassage.com
ISBN: 9781939438980
Published: One 70 Press - April 1st, 2014

Swann's Way (Remembrance of Things Past, Volume One) Cover Image
By Marcel Proust, C. K. Moncrieff (Translator)
for information about purchasing this book, please contact orders@bookpassage.com
ISBN: 9781420933086
Published: Digireads.com - January 1st, 2009

The Unnamable Cover Image
for information about purchasing this book, please contact orders@bookpassage.com
ISBN: 9781505535488
Published: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform - December 13th, 2014

Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780393337136
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - October 5th, 2009

The Collected Poems of Bertolt Brecht Cover Image
By Bertolt Brecht, David Constantine (Translated by), Tom Kuhn (Translated by)
$49.95
ISBN: 9780871407672
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Liveright - December 4th, 2018

Candide Cover Image
$4.95
ISBN: 9780553211665
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bantam Classics - April 1st, 1984

The Fire Next Time (Vintage International) Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9780679744726
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - December 1st, 1992

Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats (Wordsworth Poetry Library) Cover Image
By W. B. Yeats, Cedric Watts (Introduction by)
$7.99
ISBN: 9781853264542
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Wordsworth Editions - September 5th, 2000

The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why It Matters - With a New Q&A with the Author Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780691175683
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Princeton University Press - March 7th, 2017

Figuring Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780525565420
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - January 28th, 2020

Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780802779656
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury USA - September 4th, 2011

The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9780684827124
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - April 14th, 1997

Selected Stories, 1968-1994 Cover Image
$16.95
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9780679766742
Published: Vintage - November 11th, 1997

At the Center of All Beauty: Solitude and the Creative Life Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780393608298
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - March 10th, 2020

In the Lateness of the World: Poems Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9780525560401
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Press - March 10th, 2020

The Pillow Book Cover Image
for information about purchasing this book, please contact orders@bookpassage.com
ISBN: 9781784352332
Published: Jiahu Books - February 26th, 2017

Stories of Your Life and Others Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781101972120
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - June 14th, 2016

Exhalation: Stories Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9781101947883
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - May 7th, 2019

Map: Collected and Last Poems Cover Image
By Wislawa Szymborska, Stanislaw Baranczak (Translated by), Clare Cavanagh (Translated by)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780544705159
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mariner Books - April 12th, 2016

The Philosophical Baby: What Children's Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9780312429843
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - July 6th, 2010