What Light Can Do
Essays on Art, Imagination, and the Natural World
By Robert Hass
(Ecco, Hardcover, 9780061923920, 496pp.)
Publication Date: August 2012
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
Categories: American - General
An evocative and captivating collection of essays on writers, place, poetry, and photographywith accompanying photos throughoutfrom Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner Robert Hass
Renowned for his magisterial verse, Robert Hass is also a brilliant essayist. the New York Times hailed him as a writer who "is so intelligent that to read his poetry or prose, or to hear him speak, gives one an almost visceral pleasure." Now, with What Light Can Do, Hass's first collection of essays in more than twenty-five years, the lauded author returns to and enlarges the territory of his critically acclaimed and much-loved collection Twentieth Century Pleasures, recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award.
These acute and deeply engaging essays are as much a portrait of the elegant thought processes of an unconventional and virtuoso mind as they are inquiries into their subjects, which range from meditations on how we see and treat the earth to the relationship between literature and religion, from explorations of the works of writers as diverse as Korean poet Ko Un, Wallace Stevens, Cormac McCarthy, and Anton Chekhov to the ways in which photographymuch like an essayembodies a sustained act of attention.
A perceptive and evocative mixture of memory, philosophical interrogation, and criticism, the essays in What Light Can Do, finely attuned to the pleasures and pains of being human, are always grounded in the beauty of the material world and its details, and in the larger political and social realities we inhabit.
Robert Hass was born in San Francisco. He attended St. Mary's College in Moraga, California, and received an MA and a Ph.D. in English from Stanford University. His books of poetry include The Apple Trees at Olema (Ecco, 2010), Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner Time and Materials (Ecco, 2008), Sun Under Wood: New Poems (Ecco, 1996), Human Wishes (1989), Praise (1979), and Field Guide (1973), which was selected by Stanley Kunitz for the Yale Younger Poets Series. Hass also co-translated several volumes of poetry with Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz and authored or edited several other volumes of translation, including Nobel Laureate Tomas Transtromer's Selected Poems (2012) and The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa (1994). His essay collection Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry (1984) received the National Book Critics Circle Award. Hass served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1995 to 1997 and as chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. He lives in California with his wife, poet Brenda Hillman, and teaches at the University of California, Berkeley.
“Drawn to compelling subjects that he makes his own, Hass writes prose every bit as zestful, penetrating, and sure-footed as his poetry. . . This powerful collection affirms Hass’ stature as a philosophically attentive observer, deep thinker, and writer who dazzles and rousts.”