Tag Archives: Edward Hirsch

Writing the truth of a life

The American poet Edward Hirsch wrote a poem about his only son who died of a seizure after taking drugs at a party. He was twenty-one. Hirsch is asked what his son would make of the poem about him.

“You can’t answer what your son would make of a poem about him because your son is not there . . . A lot of my friends have been reassuring about this in that they say Gabriel’s personality comes through. Gabriel was not a shrinking violet, he imposed himself on a room. He wanted people to know him.

I am also aware that there are things he didn’t like to talk about and wouldn’t have wanted known, but which are also part of his story. If you tell his story without talking about his disabilities, which he was embarrassed about, you wouldn’t be telling his story. He had all these tics, for example, which he didn’t like to acknowledge; but he had turned all those things quite triumphantly into a working person. It is me telling the story of Gabriel as a father. You go ahead because it is what you think is accurate.”

Tim Adams interview with Edward Hirsch, “Many of us carry the dead around with us. We shouldn’t feel ashamed of that.’ 14 Sept 2014, The Guardian

(from here) 


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On writing out of grief

[Edward Hirsch wrote a  marvelous poem , Gabriel, exploring the death of his son.]

Rumpus: Who or what do you think forced you to write it?

Hirsch: Well, no person forced me to write it. No one put a gun to me and said that I had to write this poem, but I felt that a tsunami had hit me and I needed to try to stand up. I wasn’t really functioning, so I decided to try to strengthen myself by turning my grief into poetry.

Writing this poem gave me something to do with my grief. It was a relief not just to be thinking about my sadness but to be thinking about poetic problems. Because inevitably no matter how sad you are, how sorrowful you are, once you start writing a poem you also have to think about poetry. You’re engaged in technical questions, and those were a relief to me. (more here) 

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Filed under the writing process