(WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass, winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the 2007 National Book Award for poetry, will give a reading of his work at Williams College on Monday, March 7, at 7pm, in the ’62 Center’s Adams Memorial Theater. This event is free and open to the public.
Hass is the author of six poetry collections, including “Time and Materials,” which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and 2007 National Book Award; “Praise,” winner of the William Carlos Williams Award; and “Field Guide,” selected by Stanley Kunitz for the Yale Younger Poets series.
Hass is also an important essayist and translator. He has worked with Czeslaw Milosz to translate a dozen volumes of Milosz’s poetry. His translations of the Japanese haiku masters have been collected in “The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa.” His books of essays include “Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry,” which received the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism.
Robert Hass is, first of all, a poet of great eloquence, clarity, and force, whose work is rooted in the landscapes of his native Northern California. Widely read and much honored, he has brought the kind of energy in his poetry to his work as an essayist, translator, and activist on behalf of poetry, literacy, and the environment.
Most notably, in his tenure as United States Poet Laureate, Robert Hass spent two years battling American illiteracy, armed with the mantra, “imagination makes communities.” He crisscrossed the country speaking at Rotary Club meetings, raising money to organize conferences such as “Watershed,” which brought together noted novelists, poets, and storytellers to talk about writing, nature, and community.
As poet laureate of the United States from 1995 to 1997, his commitment to environmental issues led him to found River of Words (ROW), an organization that promotes environmental and arts education in affiliation with the Library of Congress Center for the Book. In 2014, he was awarded the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets.
For Hass, everything is connected. When he works to heighten literacy, he is also working to promote awareness about the environment. Hass believes that natural beauty must be tended to and that caring for a place means knowing it intimately. Poets, especially, need to pay constant attention to the interaction of mind and environment. And when he is talking about poetry itself, whether Matsuo Basho’s or Elizabeth Bishop’s, Hass is both spontaneous and original, offering poetic insights that cannot be found in any textbook.
Hass is currently the Distinguished Professor in Poetry and Poetics at the University of California, Berkeley.