2014 National Book Award Longlist, Poetry
Gabriel: A Poem
Alfred A. Knopf/ Random House
ABOUT THE BOOK
A short life, a bewildering death, and the unanswerable sorrow of a father come together in a sustained elegy. This unabashed sequence speaks directly from Hirsch’s heart to our own, without sentimentality. From its opening lines—“The funeral director opened the coffin / And there he was alone / From the waist up”—Hirsch’s account is poignantly direct and open to the strange vicissitudes and tricks of grief. In propulsive three-line stanzas, he tells the story of how a once unstoppable child, who suffered from various developmental disorders, turned into an irreverent young adult, funny, rebellious, impulsive. Hirsch mixes his tale of Gabriel with the stories of other poets through the centuries who have also lost children, and expresses his feelings through theirs. Gabriel enters the broad stream of human grief and raises in us the strange hope, even consolation, that we find in the writer’s act of witnessing and transformation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Edward Hirsch’s first collection of poems, For the Sleepwalkers, received the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University and the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets. His second collection, Wild Gratitude, won the National Book Critics Award.
Subsequent books include The Night Parade, Earthly Measures, On Love, Lay Back the Darkness, Special Orders, and The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems. Hirsch is also the author of five prose books, including A Poet’s Glossary, Poet’s Choice, and How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry. He is the editor of Theodore Roethke’s Selected Poems, and co-editor of The Making of a Sonnet: A Norton Anthology.
A 1991 National Book Awards Poetry Judge, Hirsch is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award, a Pablo Neruda Presidential Medal of Honor, the Prix de Rome, and an Academy of Arts and Letters Award. In 2008, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. He is now president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.