Distributed April 12, 2000
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Tracie Sweeney

President’s Lecture Series

Robert Hass, poet laureate from 1995-97, will present reading May 8

Robert Hass, who as U.S. poet laureate championed the causes of literacy and environmentalism from 1995-97, will present a reading on Monday, May 8, 2000, at 7 p.m. in the Salomon Center. His presentation is part of the President’s Lecture Series.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Robert Hass, poet laureate of the United States from 1995 through 1997, will present a reading Monday, May 8, at 7 p.m. in the Salomon Center for Teaching, located on The College Green. His presentation, part of the President’s Lecture Series, is open to the public without charge, but tickets are required. Tickets will be available in the Salomon Center lobby an hour before the lecture begins.

By law, the only duty required of the nation’s poet laureate is doing one reading and one lecture a year at the Library of Congress. Hass (rhymes with “grass”) broadened that role to become a champion for literacy and environmental issues. “I thought it was irrelevant to talk about what a wonderful thing poetry was if you didn’t teach people to read,” Hass told Mother Jones magazine in 1996. He crisscrossed the country, speaking to any community group that would host him and raising money to hold conferences at which environmentalists, writers and children gathered to talk about the nation’s long tradition of nature writing, noting that “if you’re going to get up to Walt Whitman and Robert Frost and Langston Hughes and Sylvia Plath, you’ve got to figure out how you put people in possession of their heritage.”

Hass, a professor of English at the University of California-Berkeley, has won numerous awards. With Field Guide, his first collection of poems, he won the 1973 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. His second volume, Praise, received the William Carlos Williams Award in 1979, and Sun under Wood received the 1997 National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry. He also has received a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant in 1984.

Hass also has received critical acclaim for his translations of the works of Czeslaw Milosz; the haiku of his non-Western mentors Basho, Buson and Issa; and for Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry, a collection of his essays and reviews, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism in 1984.