"This is a book about the formal imagination in poetry.
It began as a series of notes and reading lists for a seminar I was invited to teach at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop in the winter of 1995. . . .
The class was three hours on an afternoon. For the second half of the class, I asked each student to make a presentation on an idea of form in some discipline or craft other than poetry. They approached this task in many ways, and their informal talks entered the conversation alongside the readings proposed here. One student taught the class to waltz. One played a recording of and analyzed the structure of a raga. One, working part-time as a dessert chef in a local restaurant, demonstrated the construction of an apple galette. There were talks on the formal ordering of 1970s disco albums, form in the photographs of Cartier-Bresson, the building of a wooden canoe, and of a computer program, the plots of films noir, and the architectural design of mosques. . . .
These were the impulses with which I began these notes, these and the feeling that we do not have a very good language for the ways in which it seems most interesting to think about form."
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780062332424
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Robert Hass was born in San Francisco. 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 (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.
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