Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005
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Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005

by Robert Hass
     
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Atlantic Monthly
“No practicing poet has more talent than Robert Hass.”
Stephen Burt
…this first book of poems since his term as laureate ended shows the worth of playing against type, the survival of his private talent and the artistic uses of his public life…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.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

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
Library Journal

A former poet laureate collects "time and materials" over nearly a decade to deliver this grandly meditative work, which won the National Book Award. (LJ8/07)


—Barbara Hoffert

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061350283
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/07/2008
Pages:
96
Sales rank:
255,326
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

Time and Materials
Poems 1997-2005

Futures in Lilacs

"Tender little Buddha," she said
Of my least Buddha-like member.
She was probably quoting Allen Ginsberg,
Who was probably paraphrasing Walt Whitman.
After the Civil War, after the death of Lincoln,
That was a good time to own railroad stocks,
But Whitman was in the Library of Congress,
Researching alternative Americas,
Reading up on the curiosities of Hindoo philosophy,
Studying the etchings of stone carvings
Of strange couplings in a book.

She was taking off a blouse,
Almost transparent, the color of a silky tangerine.
From Capitol Hill Walt Whitman must have been able to see
Willows gathering the river haze
In the cooling and still-humid twilight.
He was in love with a trolley conductor
In the summer of—what was it?—1867? 1868?

Time and Materials
Poems 1997-2005
. Copyright © by Robert Hass. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Robert Hass was born in San Francisco. His books of poetry include The Apple Trees at Olema (Ecco, 2010), Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner Time and Materials (Ecco, 2008), Sun Under Wood (Ecco, 1996), Human Wishes (1989), Praise (1979), and Field Guide (1973), which was selected by Stanley Kunitz for the Yale Younger Poets Series. Hass also co-translated several volumes of poetry with Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz and authored or edited several other volumes of translation, including Nobel Laureate Tomas Tranströmer's Selected Poems (2012) and The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa (1994). His essay collection Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry (1984) received the National Book Critics Circle Award. Hass served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1995 to 1997 and as Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. He lives in California with his wife, poet Brenda Hillman, and teaches at the University of California, Berkeley.

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