Whittier College News Release
For Immediate Release - February 22, 1999
Poetry reading by Robert Hass, former Poet laureate of the U.S.
During his time as Laureate--which he called an "act of citizenship"--Hass changed what it meant to be Poet Laureate. Between the years of 1995 and 1997, he made the Office of Poetry and Literature a position from which to launch action, and the Poet Laureate a figure to launch such action. Armed with the mantra "Imagination makes communities," Hass devoted much of his time as laureate to battling American illiteracy and promoting awareness about the environment--two projects that he often combined into one. This was accomplished through conferences such as Watershed?, which was a gathering of writers and environmentalists who taught inner-city kids about the nation's long tradition of nature writing. As a result of Hass's commitment to such ideals, he was chosen Educator of the year by the North American Association on Environmental Education in 1997.
Awarded the MacArthur 'Genius' Fellowship and the Yale Series of Younger Poets in 1973, Hass is a professor of English at UC Berkeley who published Twentieth Century Pleasures, a book of essays on poetry that won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism in 1984. Additionally, Hass co-translated and edited numerous works and has published several books of poetry including Field Guide (1972), Praise (1979), Human Wishes (1989) and Sun Under Wood, which was called "Hass at his best" by the Los Angeles Times and which was the 1996 winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Born in San Francisco in 1941, his native Northern California is often made visible through his precise and highly musical sensibility, which open zones of contemplation and revelation in his poetry. "What's immediately striking in Robert Hass's work is the sheer abundance of pleasures. If one pleasure of poetry is the evocation of beautiful things, Hass's work definitely satisfies," (The Nation).
Said to be "the most talented practicing poet," (Atlantic Monthly) Robert Hass' lecture and reading at the Shannon Center is sure to please literary and environmentalist audiences, as well as anyone else who is moved or motivated by beautiful imagery in poetry.
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