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Release: March 13, 2002

Poets Hass, Young will read March 29 at UI

Photo: Dean Young

Poets Robert Hass and Dean Young, visiting faculty members in the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, will read from their work at 8 p.m. Friday, March 29 in Shambaugh Auditorium of the UI Main Library. The reading, sponsored by the workshop, is free and open to the public.

Hass was a visiting faculty member in the Writers' Workshop in 1995 when he was selected U.S. poet laureate, a post he held from 1995 to 1997. He has won the MacArthur 'Genius' Fellowship and twice received the National Books Critic Circle Award. His first book, "Field Guide," earned the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award in 1973.

Hass' other collections of poetry include "Praise," "Human Wishes" and "Sun Under Wood." He also wrote "Twentieth Century Pleasures," a book of essays on poetry. He has translated many of the works of Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz and is the editor of Thomas Transtromer's "Selected Poems: 1954-1986" and "The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa." He was co-editor of "The Best American Poetry 2001."

"Reading a poem by Robert Hass is like stepping into the ocean when the temperature of the water is not much different from that of the air," Stanley Kunitz wrote in his foreword to Hass' debut collection. "You scarcely know, until you feel the undertow tug at you, that you have entered into another element. Suddenly the deep is there, with its teeming life."

As U.S. poet laureate, Hass placed an emphasis on literacy and ecological awareness. He helped promote and organize Watershed, a weeklong gathering of writers and environmentalists designed to teach inner-city children about the nation' s tradition of nature writing.

In addition to his time at the UI, Hass has taught at the State University of New York, Buffalo and St. Mary's College. A professor of English at the University of California-Berkeley since1989, Hass was named Educator of the Year in 1997 by the North American Association on Environmental Education.

A native of San Francisco, Hass was deeply influenced by the poets who lived in the Bay Area during the 1950s. "I started out imagining myself as a novelist or essayist, but then Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg came along; and poetry, imbued with the whole lifestyle of the Beats, was much more exciting," Hass has said.

Dean Young, who was a UI visiting faculty member last year and during the 1997-98 school year, has a new book, just out this month -- "Skid," published by the Pitt Poetry Series. His other work includes the books "Design with X," "First Course in Turbulence," "Beloved Infidel" and "Strike Anywhere."

He says of "Skid," " I think my first two books were relatively austere. In the following books, I tried to work toward celebration and joy and goofiness. But life conspires against you, hands you tragedy, proves that nothing can last. I think all of that is more apparent in 'Skid' than it was in 'First Course in Turbulence.'"

Kenneth Koch wrote of Young's poetry, "Dean Young's exhilarating, complex, and wide-ranging poems give one the impression of conversations with an angel in which the poet has to be super-alert at every second, for every second counts and the angel knows everything. To listen to these conversations is to experience a colloquial, witty, emotional, and urgent discourse not to be found anywhere else."

Young, who has taught at the University of Wisconsin and Loyola University of Chicago, has received a fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown , a Stegner fellowship from Stanford University, and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. His poems have appeared three times in the "Best American Poetry" series, including in the 2001 volume edited by Hass.

Young has said of his poems, " I think they're very much about misunderstanding. There's that old writer's truism, 'Write what you know -- well, you don't know very much. I think to tie meaning too closely to understanding misses the point."

For more information about this event, contact the Writers' Workshop at 335-0416. For UI arts information, visit < >on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact < >.