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Friday, August 13, 2010

Poetry Friday--The Living Fire

Edward Hirsch's latest book is The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems [811.54 HIR].

Hirsch is obviously a lover of public libraries (see "Branch Library" below), and that fact alone is enough to make me want to celebrate this poet! But, I'm also attracted to his writing, which I've found to be down-to-earth and poignant, without being cliched or sappy. I suggest that you make sure to read "Two Suitcases of Children's Drawings from Terezin, 1942-1944," it will grab your heart and wring it out, but you'll be honored to have stood "under the waterfall." I'm happy to recommend The Living Fire to all!

Here's that library poem I promised:
Branch Library

I wish I could find that skinny, long-beaked boy
who perched in the branches of the old branch library.

He spent the Sabbath flying between the wobbly stacks
and the flimsy wooden tables on the second floor,

pecking at nuts, nesting in broken spines, scratching
notes under his own corner patch of sky.

I'd give anything to find that birdy boy again
bursting out into the dusky blue afternoon

with his satchel of scrawls and scribbles,
radiating heat, singing with joy.
You can listen to an interview with Hirsch (or read the transcript) here. One of the poems that Hirsch reads during the segment is "Branch Library."

This week's Poetry Friday Round-Up can be found at The Stenhouse Blog.


  1. Sending this post to my friend the amazing reference librarian at a branch library!!

  2. As a librarian, I can tell you that little gestures mean a whole lot! Thanks!

  3. I will be sharing this poem with my students to see if they catch the double meaning of the word "branch," which is one of my favorite elements of this poem--and one of my favorite poetry elements to teach. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. My favorite line is "nesting in open spines" -- it makes me picture a nook among the branches.