Loads of Learned Lumber

Monday, August 4, 2008

Robert Hass, _Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005_

ANOTHER PRIZE WINNER, National Book Award for Poetry in 2007.  I am obviously the kind of reader who motivates publishers to plaster those gold and silver medallions on their books.

Well, so be it.  The odds are undoubtedly against the National Book Award winner for poetry being the best book of poetry of the year, but on the other hand the book will very likely have a redeeming feature or two, at least.

I had only read a few anthology pieces by Hass before this (e.g., "Meditation at Lugunitas"), so he was something of an unknown quality for me, and I was definitely impressed.  He seems to be more or less a "plain language" guy, but one capable of stimulating leaps and swift, surprising closures -- an old dog more than capable of suddenly giving you a wink and executing a new trick.

I recently read an essay by Ron Silliman (on Ashbery's Three Poems) that contrasts the poets who seek to reinvent the way poetry is composed with "School of Quietude" poets who generally stick with more familiar or more traditional approaches.  I'm guessing Silliman would consider Hass a "School of Quietude" poet.  Which is OK with me, I think.  I'm old enough to appreciate a bit of quietude, if it's as skillful and intelligent as this. 

I need to scout out the volume with "Meditation at Lagunitas."

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