"The Living Fire" brings together a rich selection of the poetry of Edward Hirsch, from seven books of poetry spanning thirty-five years of writing. A poet who is also a passionate advocate of poetry, and a voracious reader, Hirsch infuses his poetry with a powerful blend of formal skill and emotional intensity, exploring his inner life, which is also a reading life, from childhood to middle age. In poems of grace and passion, "The Living Fire" struggles with the unlikely presence of the divine, with the power of art to redeem human transience, the complexity of relationships. In the poem which gives this book its title, Hirsch writes with tender observation of his cat, recalling the eighteenth-century poet Christopher Smart's cat Jeffrey, in an affirmation of the continuing meaning of poetry. 'It is Jeoffrey-and every creature like him - who can teach us how to praise - Wreathing themselves in the living fire.'
Edward Hirsch has published seven books of poems: For the Sleepwalkers (1981), Wild Gratitude (1986), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, The Night Parade (1989), Earthly Measures (1994), On Love (1998), Lay Back the Darkness (2003), and, most recently, Special Orders (2008). He has also written four prose books, including How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry (1999), a US bestseller, and Poet's Choice (2006). He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature. He taught in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston for seventeen years and now serves as president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.