Whether they are about loss, love, memory or age, Robert Hass’ poems tend to end on an upbeat. They are at times personal, dipping in and out of the sexual, the habitual, the domestic, yet always with an unmistakable humility: “Made love, made curry, talked on the phone/To friends, the one whose brother died/Was crying and thinking alternately/Like someone falling down and getting up/And running and falling and getting up” (“Time and Materials”). Hass’ work illustrates the daily life of poetry and the poetry of daily life while philosophizing about the purpose of this art in the greater scheme of things: “Poetry should be able to comprehend the Earth/Something of the Earth beyond our human dramas” (“State of the Planet”). Hass’ latest book, the National Book Award–winning Time and Materials,is a poignant, intimate collection of poems that does what Hass does best: ruminate on society and human relationships with the naturalist eye of a Northern Californian and the humble desire of an aging man. Robert Hass reads at the Los Angeles Central Library, 630 W. Fifth St., dwntwn.; Mon., Dec. 3, 7 p.m. Reserve online at www.lfla.org/aloud/registration.
—Erica Z. Wrightson