Praise, by Robert Hass

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Ed. Ecco Press, 1979. Size 20,5 x 14 cm. State: Used, excellent. 68 pages

Robert L. Hass (born March 1, 1941) is an American poet. Hass’s works are well known for their West Coast subjects and attitudes. He was born in San Francisco and grew up in San Rafael.[4] He grew up with an alcoholic mother, a major topic in the 1996 poem collection, Sun Under Wood. His older brother encouraged him to dedicate himself to his writing. Awe-struck by Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg, among others in the 1950s Bay Area poetry scene, Hass entertained the idea of becoming a beatnik. He graduated from Marin Catholic High School in 1958. When the area became influenced by East Asian literary techniques, such as haiku, Hass took many of these influences up in his poetry. He has been hailed as “a lyrical virtuoso who is able to turn even cooking recipes into poetry”.[6]

Hass’s poems tend to vary in structure as he alternates between prose-like blocks and free verse. His poems have been described to have a stylistic clarity, seen in his simple, clear language and precise imagery. His collection, “Praise”, features running themes of seasons, nature, location, and transformation as well as a running motif of blackberries. Poet Stanley Kunitz said of Hass’s work, “Reading a poem by Robert Hass is like stepping into the ocean when the temperature of the water is not much different from that of the air. You scarcely know, until you feel the undertow tug at you, that you have entered into another element.”

Hass is married to the poet and antiwar activist Brenda Hillman, who is a professor at Saint Mary’s College of California. He has been actively engaged in promoting ecoliteracy. In 1995, he began working with writer and environmentalist Pamela Michael on a program that encourages “children to make art and poetry about their watersheds” and fosters interdisciplinary environmental education.[12] In April 1996, when he was poet laureate, he organized a 6-day conference at the Library of Congress that brought together American nature writers to celebrate writing, the natural world and community.[13] His watershed program expanded into the non-profit organization River of Words.[14] River of Words provides tools for teaching ecoliteracy and holds an annual poetry and art contest for children and teens.

On November 9, 2011, while participating in an Occupy movement demonstration at UC Berkeley called Occupy Cal, Hass was hit in the ribs by a police officer wielding a baton. His wife was shoved to the ground by a police officer. He wrote about their experience in a November 19, 2011, New York Times opinion piece entitled “Poet-Bashing Police”.

THE IMAGE

The child brought blue clay from the creek
and the woman made two figures: a lady and a deer
At the season deer came down from the mountain
and fed quietly in the redwood canyons
The woman and the child regarded the figure of the lady,
the crude roundnesses, the grace, the coloring like shadow
They were not sure where she came from,
except the child’s fetching and the woman’s hands
and the lead-blue clay of the creek
where the deer sometimes showed themselves at sundown

CONTENTS
I
Heroic Smile
Meditation at Lagunitas
Sunrise
The Yelow Bicycle
Against Botticelli
Like Three Fair Branches frome One Root Deriv’d
Trasnparent Garments
The Image
The Feast
The Pure Ones
The Garden of Delight
Santa Lucia
To a Reader
The origin of Cities
Winter Morning in Charlottesville
Old Dominion
Monticello
Emblems of a Prior Order
Weed
Child Naming Flowers
Picking Blackberries with a Friend Who Has Been Reading Jacques Lacan
To Beginning of September
Not Going to New York: A Letter
II
Songs to Survive the Summer