Jack Hirschman is a poet, translator, social activist, and former Poet Laureate of San Francisco. Hirschman grew up in New York, earned a B.A. from City College of New York, and an A.M. and Ph.D. from Indiana University. When he was 19, he mailed one of his stories to Ernest Hemingway, who replied: “I can’t help you, kid. You write better than I did when I was 19. But the hell of it is, you write like me. That is no sin. But you won’t get anywhere with it.” When Hemingway committed suicide in 1961, the Associated Press (where Hirschman worked while at CCNY) distributed the “Letter to a Young Writer” worldwide.
Hirschman has long been an ardent, committed advocate for social justice. During the Vietnam War, he was fired from his teaching job at UCLA for encouraging his students to resist the draft. He moved to San Francisco, where he has been ubiquitous in the poetry and activism communities for over a quarter-century. In 2006, he was appointed Poet Laureate by Mayor Gavin Newsom, and in collaboration with the SF Public Library, established the San Francisco International Poetry Festival. Jack Hirschman is the founder of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade, and the author of more than 50 books of poetry, essays, and translations.
Jack Hirschman at Poetry Foundation