San Francisco’s poet laureate since 2006 has published more than 100 collections of poems in his 50-plus year career. A native New Yorker, Hirschman has lived in San Francisco for more than 30 years. On Tuesday, The 75-year-old will kick off National Poetry Month by reading from his latest collection of poetry, “All That’s Left,” at the San Francisco Main Library.
Is there a particular theme from “All That’s Left” that you will specifically draw upon when you read? My poems are lyrical and political. The themes emerge from the wounds and joys of life that each particular poem is a compositional expression of.
We recently passed the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq. As an outspoken critic of war, how much of your opinions on this conflict are represented in “All That’s Left?” “The Quntzeros Arcane” in “All That’s Left” is arguably the most powerful American poems written of the meaning of the war in Iraq in relation to the American soul.
You’ve always been an ardent supporter of social dissent. How does San Francisco and its history of counterculture fit in with your beliefs? When the Left blocks real revolutionary thought and action, I don’t like San Francisco. When it really engages the structure of power, San Franciscans can be the bravest fighters in the world.
Have you noticed an increased interest from the public now that you’ve been TheCity’s poet laureate for two years? Not the mainstream but from the poor and marginalized and wounded in this country is where real poetry comes from. So no, the poet laureate title is an honor but one which has allowed me to continue organizing the rebellious poets here and, on the international level, the poets who speak the hopes for a more humane world.