“As soon as something happens to you in America people start asking if you’re healing yet and they immediately start with the healing questions. It’s not that I’m against healing, I think healing is important, but you can’t–the only way to get out of grief is to get through it. And you can’t start healing before you grieve. You have to experience the feelings that you actually have.”

In episode 173 of The Quarantine Tapes, Paul Holdengräber is joined by writer and poet Edward Hirsch. Edward talks with Paul about the busy-ness of the past year, and the challenge of spending this time away from his poetry library. Without his books to reference, Edward talks about what it means to internalize the magical moments when literature speaks to you.

His upcoming book, 100 Poems to Break Your Heart, will be published later this month. Edward and Paul talk about how American culture, in particular, is unprepared for grief, and often forgets to feel the heartbreak. He then describes the power poetry can play in addressing grief, tapping in to the place that allows one to feel. Edward shares two of the one hundred poems from his new book, before turning to his own poetry, and digging in to the interesting, and opposite, challenge of finding a language for happiness in poetry.

Edward Hirsch is a celebrated poet and peerless advocate for poetry. He was born in Chicago in 1950—his accent makes it impossible for him to hide his origins—and educated at Grinnell College and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a Ph.D. in Folklore.