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Robert Hass Portrait

Born in San Francisco and raised in San Rafael, California, Robert Hass was educated at St. Mary's College and at Stanford University, where he received a Ph.D. In addition to six books of poetry, he has written criticism and translated European poets into English, including several volumes by Czeslaw Milosz. He has also published The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa (1994) and has taught at several schools, including Buffalo and Berkeley. Unlike poets who hope to redeem the ordinary by finding the poetic in it, Hass sometimes begins with the poetic—a radiant detail, a moment of loveliness—and works to show its relevance to daily life. Yet as the poems included here show, he is also deeply concerned with the struggle to live both morally and aesthetically, and with the ways history and culture challenge such an effort. He has written about Vietnam, about American Indians, about the American working class, and about the collapse of American cities. These concerns are unified by a recurring interest in the relationship between language and material reality and by a meditative sadness of tone that pervades much of his work.