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Time and Materials

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  1,310 ratings  ·  100 reviews
The poems in Robert Hass's new collection—his first to appear in a decade—are grounded in the beauty and energy of the physical world, and in the bafflement of the present moment in American culture. This work is breathtakingly immediate, stylistically varied, redemptive, and wise.

His familiar landscapes are here—San Francisco, the Northern California coast, the Sierra hig
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published October 9th 2007 by Ecco (first published October 1st 2007)
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M. D.  Hudson
I have no doubt in my mind that Robert Hass is an intelligent, sensitive, big-hearted, humane, good-intentioned, human being. His poems manifest these qualities again and again. So if it is enough that a poem is a vehicle for conveying agreeable qualities, then Time and Materials is a fine book of poems. But it isn’t enough for me. Which puts me in a conundrum: what then do I want from a poem? What’s wrong with genial, prolix, often formless verse moseying down the page in a humane, decent way i ...more
A nice range in this book: teeny tiny poems, very long single-stanza things, series, confessional narratives, political poems. It seems like Hass uses nature as a way out, sometimes. Like, the poem will be in the middle of an intense, sticky conflict, and he'll up and end it with, like, "Oh, we'll all die some day anyway and turn into trees." But this only happens sometimes. Most of the time the poems seem very whole.
i *really* loved this. all of it. i loved the imitations, the personal moments, the war poems, the observations, the sounds. these are, i think, the first contemporary american war poems that i have actually loved. i've read a few that i enjoyed, certainly, but these were really moving. the lines tend to not be punchy and perfect individually - the effects are cumulative and layered.
Some poems in this book are quite good. "Etymology," for example. Some stuff near the middle I found not too smart. In general, his lazy punctuation/syntax can be frustrating. Maybe I would like his earlier stuff better. His poems about politics, or what's wrong with politics, are surprisingly good, especially as it's difficult to write such poems. On the other hand, the inclusion in a book containing those of poems which make no real secret of what an upper-middle class life he leads, beaches i ...more
Scott Edward Anderson
I studied with Robert Hass and learned a lot from him as a teacher. But I learned more, perhaps, from the way he perceives nature and people in his poems. I enjoy falling into a Hass poem, which is what you's not a straight reading experience.

The nature part is easy. Bob has a gift for observation and detail (not unlike Elizabeth Bishop's, in my view). But getting people right in poems is a lot harder.

There's usually a dialogue and plenty of interior thinking, analyzing, self-analyzing.
On second reading, this collection opened up to me as a meditation on the uncertainty or “problems” of words, of description, of this thing called poetry in the face of history and atrocity.

After his powerful “problem” poems (“The Problem of Describing Color” and “The Problem of Describing Trees”), the next poem, “Winged and Acid Dark,” inspired by the film A Woman in Berlin, interrupts the terrible story about a female prostitute in WWII for us to know as he does, of Basho’s admonition on poet
Maybe this one suffered because I've read some very strong collections lately. Still, this book won an "award." I realize that Hass went "political" with some of the poems, and maybe that had something to do with his winning the award -- that and his name recognition. Whatever. "Political" poems are often bad poems, but "Bush's War" (the most obvious political poem in this collection) isn't a bad poem. Whether it has legs years from now in anything other than anti-war anthologies, is another que ...more
Time & Materials: Poems 1997-2005 is Robert Hass's collection that shares with Philip Schultz's Failure the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. I won't try to pass my comments off as criticism. For me, the collection as a whole was not particularly intriguing or moving. But poetry is so personal - I believe we are drawn to poetry in much the same way that we find ourselves attracted to other people. What I see in a person may be completely lost on someone else. More than other forms of literatur ...more
Robert Hass is a fearless modern poet, and by that I mean he is not afraid of the 21st Century: it's words, it's culture, it's religion. Math, science, evolution, medicine, politics... These are not novelties of the world for Hass; they are the knit fabric of our lives. In fits funny, honest, obtuse, open, nostalgic, optimistic, complex, simple, profound - but never flippant: the poet's voice never waivers in its sober exhale. There's a density to many of the poems, in an academic sense - or in ...more
Charlotte Pence
This poetry collection by Hass is one of the most inspiring books I've read in a while. (Inspiring in terms of showing me new ways to construct a poem.) The poems feature a structure that no one else quite does, but I have noticed more poets attempting. It’s a type of poem I’m not sure what to call. Some of its features are a sprawling, Whitman-like open-armed line, quick and strong rapid-fire associations, nose-punched images, list-like details, somewhat opaque transitions for the reader to sen ...more
An excellent collection by a well-respected poet who has an audience. I remember reading "Bush's War" in The American Poetry Review. It's didactic, but it's poetry. I like the short pieces best.


In the long winter nights, a farmer's dreams are narrow.
Over and over, he enters the furrow.
Every once in awhile there is a very good poem in here, but the rest are either written in the style of a rich man's Billy Collins or a poor man's Jack Gilbert, in the extremely rare instance that Gilbert starts to piss me off, which is not good. Mr. Hass! Needs more blackberry!
Sep 09, 2009 Sue rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
I loved this collection. I liked all the West Coast references, family life, art & literature, & I especially liked his new war poems. There should be a special award for beautiful poetry covers, this one would certanly win it!
Just throwing it out there:

Greatest author photo ever?

I feel like all would be right with the world if everyone received a hug from Bob every morning. I love this man.
I've read some of Hass's poems in isolation as well as his excellent book of essays What Light Can Do. I'm incredibly glad that I picked up Time and Meterials. From cover to cover, this brief collection is a masterpiece and contains the world.

Hass demonstrates, through each poem "the world's poor salvation in the world," that with enough time and the right materials, "we are what we can imagine." Most of all, Hass's belief that "the world occurs in present moment" leads to some absolutely keen o
My overwhelming impression is that Hass is a consummate poet who can write pretty much anything he wants. Indeed, this volume of poems covers almost every form on pretty much any subject you care to name. And the scope of his learning is immense as demonstrated by ‘State of the Planet' (On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory).

His mood varies: he can be playful as in 'I Am Your Waiter Tonight and My Name Is Dmitri', whilst at the same time intimate. Fu
Katie Willingham
On a scale from "cool" to "academic," Robert Hass would vastly favor the latter but fortunately that's my preference in literature and especially verse where, in the end, wit is all. Considering my poetic sensibilities, it's a wonder this was my first encounter with Hass.

All that being said, I did get a little bogged down about three-quarters through with quite a few prose poems about politics in a row. There was a lot of detail there but I feel like it got lost in the repetitive form and the we
All the new Robert Hass poems are about the old Robert Hass poems & I've just reached the point where "I don't give a shit." Well-written meditations are BORING. At some point you should DO SOMETHING ELSE. Meditate walking into a room with a gun in your hand a distinctive limp your feet are bleeding etc

Some of these poems are very good (like, the one about red) & Hass isn't going to lose the line. Probably not the stanza. Maybe not the poem. But I guess what I am arguing is that even whe
incoherent mental notes til i reread (finished in installments at borders): for the first while was thinking, more language & materials! the materials of language. lots of writing like paintings (as something with no order or individual parts), rich w/color & light, taste, slow tracking of the animal, v tactile... while also sort of awkwardly courting the makings of, i suppose, culture? some surprising & almost jarring political denunciations (a fucking killer hit on the world bank / ...more
Robert Beveridge
Robert Hass, Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005 (Ecco, 2007)

Robert Hass is a former Poet Laureate of the United States, which should tell you all you need to know about the quality of his work. And Time and Materials, the first book he published after his laureateship, does not disappoint in that regard.

“In one version of the legend, the sirens couldn't sing.
It was only a sailor's story that they could.
So Odysseus, lashed to the mast, was harrowed
by a music that he didn't hear—plungings of sea,
Multi-award winner, critic, Professor of English at Berkeley, translator of Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz and himself US Poet Laureate between 1995-97, Robert Hass is one of the most lauded of contemporary American poets. And yet he seems to be little known in the UK. As far as I understand, unlike, say, John Ashbery, Louise Gluck, Jorie Graham, August Kleinzahler and Mary Oliver among others, Hass has never had a UK publisher (unless you count his contribution to Five American Poets from Carcan ...more
As an avid reader of modern verse, perhaps I have not read enough Robert Hass as it has been years since I have tackled one of his volumes.

Read this review as somewhere between a 4.5 and 4.9. I really want to give it a 5 star rating, but there are a few small things that keep me from lavishing that upon it. Overall, I love the voice. I agree with its politics and and am drawn in by its rhythms...

My one major complaint (such as it is) is that many of the poems are quite prosaic - in other words,
Rachel Burke
Time and Materials: Poems is a book of poetry about the physical world. The book received the Pulitzer Prize (2007) and the National Book Award (2008). There is no recommended age group for this, none of the poetry is particularly inappropriate. This book I read in an ebook format, on my kindle. Although it was easier because I didn’t have a book to carry, and some of my books are in one place, I don’t see to much of a difference on the kindle, as opposed to reading the physical book. The poetry ...more
Susan J.
About one third of the time I absolutely love this man. The poems that are the most enjoyable to me are the ones evocative of "Meditation at Lagunitas", one of his more widely anthologized. His ability to give nods to postmodern intellectual historical contexts while retaining a relaxed idiom, chiseling all the while a formidable lyric replica of the physical world is stunning: to me it exemplifies poetry's function of illuminating personhood through observations of the problems of language and ...more
4.5 stars.

This book is well deserving of the many awards it's garnered recently, and although it took Hass 8 years to write the poems gathered here, it seems worth the time it took.

Some of his previous concerns with the failure of language (as in "Meditation at Laguinitas") remain--in "The Problem of Describing Trees," for example, "the tree danced. No./ The tree capitalized./ No. There are limits to saying,/ In language, what the tree did." He also goes back to his projects in imitation/transla
i should probably be giving this two stars but i'm adding an extra star because of 'art and life,' 'the problem of describing trees,' and 'envy of other people's poems,' at least. also because he's still better than billy collins (i should probably downgrade the collins book i read to one star. ugh).
i wanted to like this because for a time i loved the famous hass poem 'meditation at lagunitas' (although due to a variety of events it has since been ruined for me, used up) but i didn't, and also
Recently I read Hass's collection Human Wishes and loved it. I was therefore excited to read Time and Materials, but sadly it didn't have the same effect on me that the earlier book had.

The biggest problem I have with this collection is that there doesn't seem to be any sort of order, poems cover a wider range of topics than Human Wishes had, from love and family to politics and war and the poetry of others. Everything is sort of hodge podge, for example a political poem won't necessarily be pl
Jan 12, 2008 Elizabeth added it
Shelves: poetry
Although I don’t think that every single poem in the book is a mind-blower, so many are.

Has has a rare combination of humanism, humility, and a willingness to push formally against the bounds of poetry. He has poems that go from a nipple to Eastern philosophy to ... the poems are containers that are not sorted by any usual system. For that, I admire them.

I also admire Hass for his willingness to put his struggle to understand on the page. As always, I’m least fond of his domestic verse -- too sa
This really comes down to personal taste versus the content of the book. I'm a fan of succint and evocative poetry. I prefer the poem that either presents its tone in a handful of lines or is packed full of incendiary lines and phrases for the duration of the piece.

Hass, on the other hand, tend to take the meandering approach that seems to be in vogue as of late. It's a languid, stream-of-consciousness approach that takes its time squirming and stretching into its ideas. This sometimes leads to
The Problem Of Describing Color

If I said-remembering in summer,
The cardinals sudden smudge of red
In the bare gray winter woods-

If I said, red ribbon on the cocked straw hat
Of the girl with pooched-out lips
Dangling a wiry lapdog
In the painting of Renoir-

If I said fire, if I said blood welling from a cut-

Or flecks of poppy in the tar-grass scented summer air
On a wind-struck hillside outside Fano-

If I said, her one red earring tugging at her silky lobe,

If she t
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21st Century Lite...: May 2012 Poetry - Featured Book - Robert Hass 13 32 Aug 20, 2012 02:58PM  
  • Failure
  • Different Hours
  • Selected Poems
  • Practical Gods
  • Repair
  • Moy Sand and Gravel
  • The Shadow of Sirius
  • Blizzard of One
  • The Wild Iris
  • Native Guard
  • The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems, 1974-1994
  • Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems
  • Embryoyo: New Poems
  • Some Ether
  • Dancing in Odessa
  • Late Wife
  • Delights & Shadows
  • Winter Stars
Robert Hass was born in San Francisco and lives in Berkeley, California, where he teaches at the University of California. He served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1995 to 1997. A MacArthur Fellow and a two-time winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, he has published poems, literary essays, and translations. He is married to the poet Brenda Hillman.
More about Robert Hass...
Praise The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa Human Wishes Sun Under Wood Field Guide

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“Sometimes from this hillside just after sunset
The rim of the sky takes on a tinge
Of the palest green, like the flesh of a cucumber
When you peel it carefully.”
“It is good sometimes for poetry to disenchant us.” 5 likes
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