Former poet laureate kicks off Visiting Writers Series

Legitimate is a word used all too often; however, in the case of the Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series and its opening speaker, Robert Hass, legitimate is the only word applicable.

Hass will come to Butler on Sept. 21st to kick off the series and   will speak at 7:30 p.m. in the Atherton Union Reilly Room.

Currently serving as a professor at University of California-Berkeley, Hass’s resume is long. In 1995, he was named U.S. Poet Laureate, a position he held until 1997.

In 2008 Hass won the Pulitzer prize for his poetry collection “Times and Materials,” and from 2001 to 2007 he served as the chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

“The series just keeps getting better and better,” Hilene Flanzbaum, professor of English, said.

New York Times author Carolyn Kizer cited Hass’s masterful gift in a 1989 review of his book “Human Wishes.”

“Robert Hass is so intelligent that to read his poetry or prose, or to hear him speak, gives one an almost visceral pleasure,” she said. “He is a poet of abundance, a romantic of the breakfast table, of a companionable walk in his California hills.”

Hass is no stranger to the college campus: he has taught at State University of New York at Buffalo, St. Mary’s College of California, Moraga and as a visiting lecturer at University of Virginia, Goddard College and Columbia University.

Flanzbaum said she is excited for Hass’s return to the university.

“Hass came to speak ten years back,” she said. “He has a really earthy presence. He loves to talk to students.”

She said that even despite his fame, Hass has not become disconnected from his audiences.

Hass is the first writer of many coming to campus this year.

“We try to bring lots of different perspectives,” Flanzbaum said. “We like to make as many constituents as happy as we can.”

She said she thinks Hass will definitely be a student favorite among the group of writers and poets.


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