Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry

by Jane Hirshfield

Hardcover, 1997

Call number



Harper (1997), Edition: 1st, 240 pages


A Gate Enables passage between what is inside and what is outside, and the connection poetry forges between inner and outer lives is the fundamental theme of these nine essays. Nine Gates  begins with a close examination of the roots of poetic craft in "the mind of concentration" and concludes by exploring the writer's role in creating a sense of community that is open, inclusive and able to bind the individual and the whole in a way that allows each full self-expression. in between, Nine Gates illumines the nature of originality, translation, the various strategies by which meaning unfolds itself in language, poetry's roots in oral memory and the importance of the shadow to good art. A person who enters completely into the experience of a poem is initiated into a deeper intimacy with life. Delving into the nature of poetry, Jane Hirshfield also writes on the nature of the human mind, perception and experience. Nine Gates is about the underpinnings of poetic craft, but it is also about a way of being alive in the world--alertly, musically, intelligently, passionately, permeably. In part a primer for the general reader, Nine Gates is also a manual for the working writer, with each "gate" exploring particular strategies of language and thought that allow a poem to convey meaning and emotion with clarity and force. Above all, Nine Gates is an insightful guide to the way the mind of poetry awakens our fundamental consciousness of what can be known when a person is most fully alive.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member vpfluke
This is a great book for stepping inside of poetry. It is not a textbook, but an evocative essay of ways that bring us into the poetic mind/spirit. Hirshfield herself is a very good poet, and also is able to teach poetry and writing -- a kind of transcendent gift, which many writers do not have.
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She is able to bring psychological and spiritual views as well as as standard literary process into this book and does an admirable job. She uses example most frequenly from English language poetry, but frequently illustrates with Japanese examples, allwoing the reader to get an unexpected facet of of the subject. She handles ideas about meter, imagery, the relation to experience and nature with considerable deftness. She even looks at the lion that may sit inside a poet's heart.
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LibraryThing member dasam
Jane Hirshfield is not just one of the finest poets writing today, she is also one of the best writers about the craft and art of poetry and its place in our contemporary world. This collection of essays is not just for the student of poetry but for anyone who cares about language and the need for
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art to make us wholly human.
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LibraryThing member b.masonjudy
Nine Gates as a collection was a bit fragmented and it was hard for me to keep pace with the full range of Hirshfield's essays, particularly those specifically related to Japanese poetry. At their best, I felt provoked and inspired with the way she insightfully illustrates themes using excellent
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poems. At the worst, I was quite bored and felt frustrated at the overly ephermeal quality of her prose.
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