Edward Hirsch upcoming guest in ‘The Life of a Poet’ series

Edward Hirsch (Copyright (Julia Dermansky)
Edward Hirsch (Copyright Julia Dermansky)

“Poet’s Choice” remains one of the most fondly remembered features from The Post’s old Book World section. With great wit, sensitivity and erudition, Edward Hirsch wrote that popular weekly column for two years in the early 2000s, leading readers through poems from around the world.

Now poetry lovers in the DC area will have a chance to catch up with the award-winning writer. Hirsch will be my next guest for “The Life of a Poet” series on April 23 at 7:00 p.m.

Hirsch, who serves as president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, is the author of eight books of poetry — starting with “For the Sleepwalkers” in 1981.

This month, Hirsch has published a massive “Poet’s Glossary” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), which is sure to become a standard work for students and poets and anyone interested in the form. And in September, he’s set to release “Gabriel” (Knopf), about his son who died at the age of 22 in 2011.

It’s hard to think of anyone who’s done more than Hirsch to celebrate poetry and argue for its essential place in our lives. In his 1999 bestseller,  “How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry,” he writes, “Poetry is a form of necessary speech. . . . I have sought to restore the aura of sacred practice that accompanies true poetic creation, to honor both the rational and the irrational elements of poetry. I would restore the burden of the mystery. I would illuminate an experience that takes us to the very heart of being.”

Come join us on that journey next Wednesday night. The hour-long conversations in this series provide an unusual opportunity to delve into a poet’s work and life. The setting in the beautifully restored Old Naval Hospital in Southeast Washington is cozy, and afterward we’ll have a reception where you can talk with Hirsch and get copies of his books signed.

This will be the fourth interview in the series, which is co-sponsored by the Library of Congress and The Washington Post. (Previous guests were Elizabeth Alexander, Nick Flynn and Carl Phillips. Looking ahead, I’ll be talking with recent National Book Award winner Mary Szybist on Sept. 17.)

This event is free and open to the public, but get a reservation if you want to make sure you can have a seat. We keep the audience strictly limited to 100 people to preserve the intimate atmosphere of the conversation. For more information, visit the Hill Center website or call 202-549-4172.

Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.
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