Edward Hirsch was born in Chicago in 1950 and educated both at Grinnell College and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a Ph.D. in folklore. His first collection of poems, For the Sleepwalkers, was published in 1981 and went on to receive the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University. His second collection, Wild Gratitude (1986), received the National Book Critics Circle Award. Since then, he has published several books of poems, most recently The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2011); Special Orders (2008); Lay Back the Darkness (2003); On Love (1998); Earthly Measures (1994); and The Night Parade (1989).
He is also the author of the prose volumes The Demon and the Angel: Searching for the Source of Artistic Inspiration (Harcourt, 2002), Responsive Reading (1999), and the national bestseller How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry (1999), which the poet Garrett Hongo called “the product of a lifetime of passionate reflection” and “a wonderful book for laureate and layman both.” Most recently, he published Poet’s Choice (Harcourt, 2007), which collects two years’ worth of his weekly essay-letters running in the Washington Post Book World.
Hirsch has received fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, an Academy of Arts and Letters Award, and a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award.
He has been a professor of English at Wayne State University and the University of Houston. Hirsch is currently the president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. In 2008, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.