Ex-Poet Laureate of the United States, Robert Hass
American poetry will never be the same thanks to Robert Hass and his remarkable talent for exploring the depths of the human condition while maintaining a conversational tone. Because of his firm belief in poetry's transforming power and its capacity to cultivate understanding and empathy, he has spent his time as U.S. Poet Laureate actively participating in educational and environmental efforts. Through his evocative and perceptive poetry, he invites us to see the world in a fresh way.
Robert Hass, considered one of the most influential poets of the 20th century, was the United States' poet laureate from 1995 to 1997. The natural world and his keen observations have given American poetry a new vitality and depth.
Hass's early life and education were profoundly rooted in the West Coast, a relationship that would later affect his poetry. He was born on March 1, 1941, in San Francisco. His undergraduate degree was earned at Saint Mary's College in Moraga, California, and his PhD work was guided by the acclaimed poet and critic Yvor Winters at Stanford University.
Poems by Hass are notable for their approachable language and philosophical investigation of human experience as well as their profound engagement with the daily and the natural world. His writing frequently makes use of detailed, striking visuals to probe the complexities of the interplay between humans and their surroundings.
Hass's "Field Guide," published in 1973, was the recipient of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry. The 2007 publication of his later work, "Time and Materials," was awarded the National Book Award in Poetry as well as the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Hass's translations of the Polish poet Czesaw Miosz are just as well-received as his own works, if not more so.
As the United States Poet Laureate, Hass worked tirelessly to promote both literacy and environmental consciousness. To encourage schools to teach about the environment and the arts, he started a global poetry and art program called River of Words.
Beyond the realm of poetry, Hass's legacy and influence are felt. Hass, a professor of English at UC Berkeley and co-founder of the literary journal American Poetry Review, is responsible for the development of many young poets. His critical essays, especially those focusing on poetry, continue to be required reading for budding poets because of the insights they provide into the craft.