Hirshfield Calls Poetry the ‘Antidote’ to ‘Fundamentalism’


Earlier this month, The Washington Post‘s Carole Burns sat down to discuss “poetry’s role in human lives” with poet Jane Hirshfield.

Knopf has just released a new poetry collection of Hirshfield’s called The Beauty as well as a book about poetry titled Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World.

In Burns’s conversation with the poet, Hirshfield condemns “fundamentalism of every kind” and calls poetry the “antidote.” Burns and Hirshfield also spend a bit of time discussing the Freddie Gray case and other problems of race in America. Hirshfield notes the necessity of poetry in race-related conversations: “If you don’t recognize that what happens to anyone happens to you, we will go on committing violence to one another. Poems written in the aftermath of injustice and dehumanization and tribal allegiance offer us a way out of this fixed mind-set.”

The two also briefly discuss religion and poems that have had a particularly transformative effect on Hirshfield personally.

Read the entirety of the conversation here.