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Robert Hass is 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.
A 1984 MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, Hass has earned many prestigious awards throughout his career, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and two National Book Critics Circle Awards – one for poetry and one for criticism. In 1995 he served as Poet Laureate of the United States, crisscrossing the United States for two years to battle illiteracy with the mantra “imagination makes communities.” When he works to heighten literacy, he is also promoting awareness about the environment. For Hass, poets need to pay constant attention to the interaction of mind and environment. Together with writer and activist Pamela Michael he founded River of Words, a nonprofit organization for eco-literacy education that provides poetry and art competitions for youth. His many books of poetry include “The Apple Trees at Olema” (Ecco Press, 2010); “Time and Materials” (2007), which won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize; and “Sun Under Wood” (Ecco Press, 1996), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. His most recent collection is “Summer Snow: New Poems.” Hass has also written powerful books of essays and criticism and is a gifted translator of celebrated Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz and Japanese haiku masters Basho, Buson and Issa. Hass is emeritus faculty at UC Berkeley and lives in California with his wife, the celebrated poet, translator and activist Brenda Hillman.
Free and open to the public. Photo credit: Miriam Berkley.