"Robert Hass is so intelligent that to read his poetry or prose, or to hear him speak, gives one an almost visceral pleasure."
-New York Times Book Review
Universally lauded poet Robert Hass offers a stunning, wide-ranging collection of essays on art, imagination, and the natural world-with accompanying photos throughout. What Light Can Do is a magnificent companion piece to the former U.S. Poet Laureate's Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning poetry collection, Time and Materials, as well as his earlier book of essays, the NBCC Award-winner Twentieth Century Pleasures. Haas brilliantly discourses on many of his favorite topics-on writers ranging from Jack London to Wallace Stevens to Allen Ginsberg to Cormac McCarthy; on California; and on the art of photography in several memorable pieces-in What Light Can Do, a remarkable literary treasure that might best be described as "luminous."
In this erudite and engaging collection of more than 30 essays, poet and UC-Berkeley professor Hass (Time and Materials) covers topics as eclectic as the lives of great writers; art's relationship to violence; spirituality; the landscape photography of California; the underappreciated canon of black nature writing; and the experience of teaching poetry. "The essay as a form is an act of attention," Hass writes in the introduction, and his attentions are wide-ranging; each overstuffed piece is an opportunity for meandering digression and fruitful association. Hass's passionate admiration for his fellow men and women of letters-including Jack London, Maxine Hong Kingston, Czeslaw Milosz, Allen Ginsberg, and Cormac McCarthy-animates his prose. The best essays transcend their subject matter, becoming works of literature in their own right. These meditations, such as "Robert Adams and Los Angeles," which reflects on the photographer's vision of California, and "An Oak Grove," a requiem for the felled trees of the Berkeley campus, fuse the poet's love of language with the scholar's interest in context, demonstrating the truth of Hass's own claim that "the deepest response to a work of art is, in fact, another work of art." (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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August 13, 2012
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