Did an early mistake in Edward Hirsch’s life lead him to forge a career in poetry? “When I was eight years old my grandfather died…After he died I went down to the basement of my family house…and there was an anthology without any names attached to it. I read a poem called ‘Spellbound’ [by Emily Brontë]and I somehow attached it to my grandfather’s death and I thought my grandfather had written it…I didn’t sit down then and start writing poems, but it was in the back of my mind.”
Hirsch sat down with Big Think to talk about the act of creating (and reading) poetry, which to him is a messy process that has evolved over the years, but still doesn’t include systematic revisions. As for commenting on the future of poetry in this era of digital media and short attention spans, Hirsch isn’t one to hide his concerns. In the end, he believes that poetry will continue to survive—but if people can’t pay attention, it might save fewer souls.