Poetry News

Jane Hirshfield Releases the Previously Unknown

By Harriet Staff


Get psyched for this one: Jane Hirshfield is interviewed over at Psychology Today. Jennifer Haupt asks Hirshfield two questions—why write poems? and does the poem have a responsibility to transforming society? To the former question, Hirshfield responds:

One reason to write a poem is to flush from the deep thickets of the self some thought, feeling, comprehension, question, music, you didn’t know was in you, or in the world. Other forms of writing—scientific papers, political analysis, most journalism—attempt to capture and comprehend something known. Poetry is a release of something previously unknown into the visible. You write to invite that, to make of yourself a gathering of the unexpected and, with luck, of the unexpectable.

And to the latter:

There’s a perennial debate about this. Is art’s purpose to do things outside its own existence? Does art change anything by its existence or non-existence? Should it? I come down firmly on both sides. And in either way of looking, I’d argue that art, if it is genuinely art, is a force for the good.

Hirshfield elaborates on those answers. Head over to Psychology Today to read what she says.

Originally Published: January 10th, 2014