He’s a MacArthur Fellow, a two-time National Book Critics Circle Award winner and a UC Berkeley faculty member since 1989. Like most poets, he’s little-known outside his field. Among his peers, he’s regarded as one of the best.
Hence the piece on Hass, we assume. Like we said, we’re not really sure what prompted the piece now, but we’re not complaining … that much.
The article gives a brief account of his life and influences and accomplishments in what we’d call an “interesting” narrative. It’s not horrible, but it does sound like the writer is trying too hard.
In one part, the piece pulls a quote from Mary Karr, whose relationship to Hass is unclear. Friend? Colleague? Student? Mentoree? Whatever–something else to nitpick. She says that his face had an expression “like he just stepped out of a jungle.” Then she added:
You could almost hear the palm fronds snap closed behind him.
OK … uh huh. Then the writer cuts to his encounter with Hass, meeting him and looking at his face:
On a recent morning, Hass opens the door to the hilltop Kensington home that he shares with his wife, the poet Brenda Hillman. He’s wearing jeans, a neatly pressed dress shirt and, as Karr described it, “a great, kind of beautiful wondering expression on his face.” Soft and largely unlined, it’s the face of a man who retains a wide-openness despite age, career competition and the inevitable setbacks and disappointments.
The palm fronds snap shut.
Groan. We bet the writer was so proud of that too. So full of cheese! So scripted!
Well, perhaps that’s why the writer is writing about Hass and his accomplishments and not the other way around. These things have a way of working themselves out in the nature of the world.
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