What Keeps Edward Hirsch Up At Night

Question: What keeps you up at night?

Edward Hirsch:  You have a lot of worries.  I think there are the things that keep me up aside from personal things which can always get you and keep you up in terms of your personal life.  Are you doing your best?  Is this the best work you can do?  You’re shadowed by your own dream, especially as you get older, of trying to create something that will last in poetry.  And so, you're working on its behalf.

Now, sometimes I’m awake at night brooding about a particular poem.  Sometimes I’m awake with something less noble in terms of what happened in the day or in the days.  One of the gratifying things for me about this is I’ve always written about insomnia and insomnia has been one of my subjects from the time I was in my 20’s because I've never been a very restful sleeper.  And I like the metaphor of insomnia in poetry.  That is, someone who’s awake in the middle of the night is a soul consciousness when everyone else is asleep and that creates a feeling of solitude in poetry that I very much like.  So, sometimes when I’m awake - well, when I was younger I would just write right then, but now I just remember the feeling and think I can make something out of this, out of this sense of isolation or loneliness or desolation that you get at 4:00 a.m.  

Recorded on February 4, 2010

The poet finds himself shadowed by his own dream.

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