Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World
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Jane Hirshfield offers ten eloquent and highly original explorations into how great poems transform our experience of the world. Touching on everything from the concept of “windows” in poems (the moments where a word, phrase, or shift in tone “opens” something for the reader) to the mechanisms of surprise and uncertainty, Jane uses particular poems (by Basho, Dickinson, Szymborska, Gilbert, Cavafy and Creeley, to name a few) to show us how poetry works, word by charged word. Most of all, she captures the ways in which poems make something possible that is separate from and beyond our daily reality (“[Poetry’s] seeing is not our usual seeing, its hearing is not our usual hearing”). Locating the border realm between inner and outer, what is known and what can only be apprehended in the realm of verse, Hirshfield’s lucid understanding is gripping and transformative itself, showing us at every turn how poems restore us to and expand our sense of a broader humanity.