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Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005by Robert Hass
2008 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (Collection)
Synopses & Reviews
The poems in Robert Hass's new collection — his first to appear in a decade — are grounded in the beauty and energy of the physical world, and in the bafflement of the present moment in American culture. This work is breathtakingly immediate, stylistically varied, redemptive, and wise.
His familiar landscapes are here — San Francisco, the Northern California coast, the Sierra high country — in addition to some of his oft-explored themes: art; the natural world; the nature of desire; the violence of history; the power and limits of language; and, as in his other books, domestic life and the conversation between men and women. New themes emerge as well, perhaps: the essence of memory and of time.
The works here look at paintings, at Gerhard Richter as well as Vermeer, and pay tribute to his particular literary masters, friend Czesław Miłosz, the great Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, Horace, Whitman, Stevens, Nietszche, and Lucretius. We are offered glimpses of a surprisingly green and vibrant twenty-first-century Berlin; of the demilitarized zone between the Koreas; of a Bangkok night, a Mexican desert, and an early summer morning in Paris, all brought into a vivid present and with a passionate meditation on what it is and has been to be alive. "It has always been Mr. Hass's aim," the New York Times Book Review wrote, "to get the whole man, head and heart and hands and everything else, into his poetry."
Every new volume by Robert Hass is a major event in poetry, and this beautiful collection is no exception.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Hass critiques humankind's inability to sustain wonder or compassion, then attempts to evoke both with beauty, candor, and protest." Booklist
"The title suggests more hopefully that poetry is a craft, like carpentry: this book contains Hass's best and most careful verse in almost 30 years." New York Times
"These poems filled with modern life at the same time ponder the mythologies that create and bind our often flawed but survivable culture....Highly recommended." Library Journal
Robert Hass has, for a long time, held a prominent position among the most revered of all living poets. Unlike the more difficult, cerebral poetry of writers like John Ashbery, Hass's work is grounded in the beauty of the physical world, in the smaller details of natural, human life. His poetry is graceful, humble, curious, and wise. Because he has published so little work, every new book is a major event in poetry, and this is no exception.
One of Americas most accessible and engaging poets takes readers on a lively and surprising night tour of Americas public places.
Night of the Republicshowcases one of Americas best poets not only working at the height of his powers but pushing into new and exciting territory as well. InNight of the Republic, Alan Shapiro visits a gas station restroom, a shoe store, a convention hall, and a racetrack, among other placesand in stark Edward Hopper–like imagery reveals the surreal and dreamlike quality of these familiar but empty night spaces. Shapiro finds in them not the expected alienation but rather an odd, companionable spirit of a community of solitude rising from the quiet emptiness. The collection also includes moving meditations of his childhood in Brookline, Massachusetts, and of tragic and haunting events such as the Cuban missile crisis and the assassination of JFK. WhileNight of the Republicis Shapiros most ambitious, inventive, and accessible collection to date, it is also his most timely and urgent for the acute way it illuminates the mingling of private obsessions with public space.
About the Author
Robert Hass is the author of two earlier collections of poems, Field Guide and Praise, and a book of essays, Twentieth Century Pleasures. He has also collaborated with Czeslaw Milosz on the translation of his poems, most recently Collected Poems. His many honors include a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur fellowship and the 1984 National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism. He has taught for many years at St. Mary's College of California and is currently a professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley.
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