Day of the Ed

What kind of person would be best at figuring out how to spend $295,000? A poet, of course. That kind of money might be chump change to Charles Barkley, but to the prototypical starving artist, it’s a lot of stanzas. Or it will be for University of Houston English professor Edward Hirsch, who was recently awarded one of the MacArthur Foundation’s “genius” grants. The unsolicited gift—one does not apply for a MacArthur—came as a complete shock to the 48-year-old. “Can one call such a thing a thrilling blow?” he asks. His mandate from the foundation, he says, is “more work and greater enchantment,” and he’s happy to oblige. “It seems to me that money should be spent in the spirit in which it’s given,” he says, “so I’ll spend it to give myself more time to think about poetry, write my own poems, and write more deeply about poems.” That will be welcome news to Hirsch’s fans, who are currently enjoying his latest collection, On Love (Alfred A. Knopf, $22), in which he explores the eponymous subject through monologues written as if spoken by history’s great poets and thinkers. The last poem closes with the ecstatic advice, “Savor the world. Consume the feast with love.” Now he can do the same—just a little more comfortably.

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