Robert Hass and Hello!


I’ve always been unreliable when it comes to “blogging”. Twice it has been a New Year’s Resolution and twice it has fallen flat by the end of the January sales… two weeks should be just about manageable, I hope…

Hello by the way, I’m David Tait.

I’m crap at saying hello, especially when what I really want to talk about is something else, which today happens to be the poems of Robert Hass, whose “The Apple Trees at Olema… New and Selected” has recently been published by Bloodaxe. It’s one of the most incredible poetry books I’ve read, bringing together the last five million years of his work* in a gripping (and really quite heavy) volume of poems that could quite easily be used as a murder weapon, were you so inclined.

It starts with new poems, then goes right back to the beginning (‘Field Guide’ ‘Praise’ ‘Human Wishes’) and works its way through slowly and steadily until you realise that you’re hungry and it’s Wednesday and you’ve missed 3 days of work. Hass is such a versatile poet that it’s hard to tie him down, but ever present themes include San Francisco, Czeslaw Milosz, Dinner, Stalking People and Writing About Writing But Not In An Annoying Way. And of course his tone is generous and discursive without ever quite relaxing into the realms of Billy Collins. He even has a poem with the expression “fingerfucking the countess” in it, which I quite enjoyed…  (its called “the nineteenth century as a song”)

Thumbing through the rest of the collection standout poems for me include Meditations at Languitas “all the new thinking is about loss / in that way it resembles the old thinking” and “On Squaw Peak” which explores the sudden sadness at remembering the loss of a child. The new poems which we’re assured are presented here for the first time are also markedly brilliant… a series of “notebooks” that contain sketches of small intense scenes, a scientific poem about the formation of sand-dunes (and grief) and a Raymond Carver-esque long poem called “The Red Chinese Dragon and The Shadows on Her Body in the Moonlight” are amongst the highlights of a book which is, really, much better than it needs to be!

To buy it, which I think you probably should, really, all things being considered visit this link:

You can of course buy it from the usual places for cheaper but if you’re reading a blog about poetry there is a good chance that you would be keen to “Do The Right Thing.”

See you tomorrow, or not!

D x

* well I don’t know, ask google!

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