Jane Hirshfield / The Asking: New and Selected Poems

The Booksmith

1727 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

From $40.00

No upcoming date/times for this event.

** Advance sales for this event end at 3PM, but we'll be letting people in first-come / first-served at the door as space allows. **

Booksmith and Berkeley Arts & Letters present a special evening with Jane Hirshfield to celebrate her long-awaited new and selected collection of poems, The Asking. More to be announced soon, but please save the date and join us!

About the book

In an era of algorithm, assertion, silo, and induced distraction, Jane Hirshfield’s poems bring a much-needed awakening response, actively countering narrowness. The Asking takes its title from the close of one of its thirty-one new poems: “don’t despair of this falling world, not yet / didn’t it give you the asking.” Interrogating language and life, pondering beauty amid bewilderment and transcendence amid transience, Hirshfield offers a signature investigation of the conditions, contradictions, uncertainties, and astonishments that shape our existence. A leading advocate for the biosphere and the alliance of science and imagination, she brings to both inner and outer quandaries an abiding compass: the choice to embrace what is, to face with courage, curiosity, and a sense of kinship whatever comes. 

In poems that consider the smallest ant and the vastness of time, hunger and bounty, physics, war, and love in myriad forms, this collection—drawing from nine previous books and five decades of writing—brings the insights and slant-lights that come to us only through poetry’s arc, delve, and tact; through a vision both close and sweeping; through music-inflected thought and recombinant leap. 

With its quietly magnifying brushwork and numinous clarities, The Asking expands our awareness of both breakage’s grief and the possibility for repair.

About the author

Writing “some of the most important poetry in the world today” (The New York Times Magazine), Jane Hirshfield is the author of ten collections and is one of American poetry’s central spokespersons for concerns of the biosphere. Hirshfield’s honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, the Poetry Center Book Award, the California Book Award, and finalist selection for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She’s also the author of two now-classic collections of essays on the craft of poetry, and edited and co-translated four books presenting world poets from the deep past. Hirshfield’s work, which has been translated into seventeen languages, appears in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, and ten editions of The Best American Poetry. A former chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2019. Photo by Curt Richter.

Please note:

  • This is a ticketed, in-person event to be held in our store, at 1727 Haight Street, San Francisco. Each ticket comes with a signed, hardcover copy of The Asking.
  • Masks will not be required for this event, but we will be limiting capacity somewhat. As a result, we can't guarantee we'll have space for walk-ins. The best way to ensure you’ll get a seat is to order a ticket in advance.
  • We are happy to offer *signed copies* of The Askingorder a ticket if you'd like to pick up a signed copy at the event, or order here if you just want a signed copy and no admission. You can order copies of Jane's other books here.
  • If we feel it is not safe to gather, as the event gets closer, we will pivot to a virtual event and your registration will remain valid.
  • Questions? Accessibility requests? Write [email protected].


Refund Policy:

No refunds or returns.

Cancellation Policy:

In the event of cancellation, you will be refunded the price of your ticket within 4 business days.

Jane Hirshfield / The Asking: New and Selected Poems poster
The Booksmith
1727 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117