Why I Write

Why I Write – cont.:

What we want from art is whatever is missing from the lives we are already living and making. Something is always missing, and so art-making is endless.

– Jane Hirshfield

Thank you so very much Peter – for bringing this great interview with Jane Hirshfield to my attention!

Hirshfield says:

  • Poems foment revolutions of being. Whatever the old order was, a poem will change it.
  • You can’t read a poem—a good poem, at least—by someone else, and not recognize in their experience your own face.
  • Art, if it is genuinely art, is a force for the good.

(I know I would not want a vision of art that is purely utilitarian … and yet, even useless joy is not inconsequential. Joy is reasonless and “accomplishes” nothing, yet is an indispensable enlargement of measure in any life. Why do we want justice, or any other diminishment of suffering, if not for the increase of simple happiness it brings?)

  • I’m not saying that art is a matter of beauty, solace, or calmness, though it can be, and that can be welcome.


You must try,
the voice said, to become colder.
I understood at once.
It’s like the bodies of gods: cast in bronze,
braced in stone. Only something heartless
could bear the full weight.

—Jane Hirshfield,

“The World Loved By Moonlight”


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