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Friday, April 11, 2008

Hass and Earth Poetry


Still thinking about last night's appearance by Robert Hass at Walnut Creek's Lindsay Wildlife Museum, I found this article by Sue Gilmore in the Contra Costa Times announcing the upcoming event. It's a good profile of Hass and captures some of the inspiring and hopeful quality of his talk and reading. He made a statement that impressed me: that he had learned about the importance of community from becoming Poet Laureate. It speaks to a deep humility that informs his writing and his work on behalf of the planet and literacy, two causes he sees as combined.

Earth poetry tends to bifurcate into ode or rant. Back when I had first published my book Earth Lessons, I acquired some anthologies of earth poetry. They deeply disappointed, as they fell neatly into those categories in such predictable ways I felt nothing would be saved from this meager way of viewing our situation on our planet. Hass' new poems seem to be insightful about the problems yet hopeful about our ability to tend the garden of earth which we clearly dominate. One other thing he said that I found true: Nature is over. That wild place untouched by man -- there isn't any left on earth. Now, it's up to us to tend the garden we have taken over.
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