Edward Hirsch was born in Chicago in 1950 and educated
both at Grinnell College and the University of Pennsylvania,
where he received a Ph.D. in folklore.
His first collection of poems, For the Sleepwalkers,
was published in 1981 and went on to receive the Lavan
Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets and the
Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University.
His second collection, Wild Gratitude (1986),
received the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Since then, he has published several books of poems,
most recently Special Orders (Alfred A. Knopf, 2008); Lay
the Darkness (2003); On Love (1998); Earthly
and The Night Parade (1989).
He is also the author of the prose volumes The Demon
and the Angel: Searching for the Source of Artistic Inspiration (Harcourt, 2002), Responsive
Reading (1999), and the national
bestseller How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with
Poetry (1999), which the poet Garrett Hongo called "the product
of a lifetime of passionate reflection" and "a
wonderful book for laureate and layman both." Most
recently, he published Poet's Choice (Harcourt, 2007),
which collects two years' worth of his weekly essay-letters
running in the Washington Post Book World.
About his poetry, the poet Dana Goodyear wrote for the
Los Angeles Times Book Review, "It takes a brave poet
to follow Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Milton into the abyss
. . . Hirsch's poems [are] compassionate, reverential,
sometimes relievingly ruthless."
Hirsch has received fellowships from the Guggenheim and
MacArthur foundations, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award,
a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Rome
Prize from the American Academy in Rome, an Academy of
Arts and Letters Award, and a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest
He has been a professor of English at Wayne State University
and the University of Houston. Hirsch is currently
the president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
In 2008, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy
of American Poets.