Winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, Former Poet Laureate of the United States
The Apple Trees at Olema includes work from Robert Hass's first five books - Field Guide, Praise, Human Wishes, Sun Under Wood, and Time and Materials - as well as a substantial gathering of new poems, including a suite of elegies, a series of poems in the form of notebook musings on the nature of storytelling, a suite of summer lyrics, and two experiments in pure narrative that meditate on personal relations in a violent world and read like small, luminous novellas.
From the beginning, his poems have seemed entirely his own: a complex hybrid of the lyric line, with an unwavering fidelity to human and nonhuman nature, and formal variety and surprise, and a syntax capable of thinking through difficult things in ways that are both perfectly ordinary and really unusual. Over the years, he has added to these qualities a range and a formal restlessness that seem to come from a skeptical turn of mind, an acute sense of the artifice of the poem and of the complexity of the world of lived experience that a poem tries to apprehend.
Hass's work is grounded in the beauty of the physical world. His familiar landscapes - San Francisco, the northern California coast, the Sierra high country - are vividly alive in his work. His themes include art, the natural world, desire, family life, the life between lovers, the violence of history, and the power and inherent limitations of language. He is a poet who is trying to say, as fully as he can, what it is like to be alive in his place and time. His style - formed in part by American modernism, in part by his long apprenticeship as a translator of the Japanese haiku masters and Czeslaw Milosz - combines intimacy of address, a quick intelligence, a virtuosic skill with long sentences, intense sensual vividness, and a light touch. It has made him immensely readable and his work widely admired.
About the Author: Robert Hass was born in San Francisco in 1941. He attended St. Mary's College and Stanford University. His books of poetry include Time and Materials, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 and the National Book Award in 2008; Sun Under Wood, for which he received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1996; Human Wishes; Praise, for which he received the William Carlos Williams Award in 1979; and Field Guide, which was selected by Stanley Kunitz for the Yale Younger Poets Series. Hass also worked with Czeslaw Milosz to translate a dozen volumes of Milosz's poetry, including the book-length Treatise on Poetry and, most recently, A Second Space. His translations of the Japanese haiku masters have been collected in The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa. His books of essays include Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism in 1984, and Now and Then: The Poet's Choice Columns, 1997-2000. From 1995 to 1997 he served as poet laureate of the United States. He lives in northern California with his wife, the poet Brenda Hillman, and teaches English at the University of California at Berkeley.