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Robert Hass's first volume of poetry, Field Guide, was published by the Yale Series of Younger Poets, one of the most prestigious awards for a young poet. He has since won most of the major poetry awards as well as being appointed Poet Laureate of the United States.
In Time and Materials, Hass produces a gentle, elegiac, late music in his translations of Nobel Prize-winning poet Czeslaw Milosz and others, family poems, and poems of the Iraq War which are, as Hass has said in an interview, ?the buzz? if not their subject. At a recent reading, Hass also read raw, moving poems about the death of his brother that incorporated blues lyrics. To paraphrase one of his poems, "The old narrative is all about loss, the new narrative is loss."
There is a remarkable generosity and openness to Hass's recent work, and a globe-spanning amplitude that he shares with his mentor and friend Milosz who, Hass said, contains in his work all of twentieth-century European history. In his first book, the poet seemed to be a California regionalist, detailing his home state's flora and fauna with a naturalist's eye. On the other hand I recall the Vietnam-era poem in that first book, which closes with, ?citizens wake to murder in their moral dreams."
In the cleansing way that an articulation of grief will, Robert Hass's Time and Materials will break your heart.
Publishers Weekly, 2007-07-30 The first book in 10 years from former U.S. poet laureate Hass may be his best in 30: these new poems show a rare internal variety, even as they reflect his constant concerns. One is human impact "on the planet at the century's end": a nine-part verse-essay addressed to the ancient Roman poet Lucretius sums up evolution, deplores global warming and says that "the earth needs a dream of restoration in which/ She dances and the birds just keep arriving." Another concern is biography and memory, not so much Hass's own life as the lives of family and friends. A poem about his sad father and alcoholic mother avoids self-pity by telling a finely paced story. Hass also commemorates the late Polish Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz, with whom he collaborated on translations; condemns war in harsh, stripped-down prose poems; explores achievements in visual art from Gerhard Richter to Vermeer; and turns in perfected, understated phrases on Japanese Buddhist models. Through it all runs a rare skill with long sentences, a light touch, a wish to make claims not just on our ears but on our hearts, and a willingness to wait-few poets wait longer, it seems-for just the right word. (Oct.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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