Photo: Jeff Kearns.
Readers of Robert Hass’s poetry are familiar with his fine-tuned and tender attention to the natural world. What they may not know so well are his efforts to take that devotion off the page and into boardrooms and classrooms.
As United States Poet Laureate from 1995 to 1997, Hass turned the post into a pulpit. He cofounded River of Words, a nonprofit that connects children to their environment, and created the Watershed conferences, which explore the connection between writing and nature. He currently brings his literary outlook to the board of the International Rivers Network. And at the University of California-Berkeley, where he is an English professor, he started an innovative interdepartmental class that explores the intersections between poetry and science.
Hass, 64, says his collections — which include Field Guide, Human Wishes, and Sun Under Wood — don’t have an agenda. But he also argues that poems, despite having a tiny audience, can be a valuable tool for environmental activists, on both a political and personal level. At his home in Kensingt... Read more