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Time and Materials

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,790 ratings  ·  122 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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3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,790 ratings  ·  122 reviews

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M. D.  Hudson
May 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry

The gene pool threw up a wobbly stem
And the tree danced. No.
The tree capitalized.
No. There are limits to saying,
In language, what the tree did.

It is good sometimes for poetry to disenchant us.

- The Problem of Describing Trees (pg. 10)

The so-called "limits in language" are, in fact, limits in the poet's imagination. First and foremost, how many poets have described trees before, how many times have trees been described in different and nuanced ways? All beautiful, I might add. Althou
Stephanie Sun
Mar 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: dead-tree
I should have loved this, but I didn't. Ambling and bougie, these poems leave one begging for a really garish rhyme or two or thirty, anything to disrupt the feeling of being stuck inside a Getty Images stock photo with a man whose favorite food is bread.

"Gracias." "De nada."

Hass titles his book Time and Materials, but can't seem to muster up any strong feeling about the inadequacy, mystery, beauty, or sinisterness of either. Women laugh at him, and can live without him, and that's all okay to
Jun 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry-poetics
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.
Nov 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008, poetry, translated
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.
Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing. I will review later.
Sophia Roberts
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
Jun 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Scott Edward Anderson
Dec 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
More poetry before bed...

Meh. These were not great. Hass employs a lot of nature imagery into his poems, but none of it really grabbed me the way the good poetry I've been reading has. (Or even the bad poetry, which usually has something that makes me stop and think.) I didn't actively dislike them, but the poems didn't hold my attention, and upon finishing I couldn't always remember what the poem had been about. The people in them felt inauthentic, and the writing never fully convinced me any
Jul 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
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
Dec 30, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Charlotte Pence
Feb 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
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
Liz Shine
Jul 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved, loved, loved this book! Took my time and read each poem multiple times. I could never read another poetry book and be satisfied to have stopped here. That won't happen, but it could. This book is that good in craft and substance. The poems in this collection stirred my mind and heart, filled my with sadness, delight, and curiosity. You should definitely read it. Thank you, Mr. Hass, for your lovely poems.
Aug 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Good takes on politics, but their inclusion among poems which make no secret of what a bougie life he leads, beaches in Mexico, hiking in Marin County, restaurants, etc., seems to invalidate their perspective, because in no way does he reject or indicate a willingness or readiness to reject the lifestyle made possible by the bellicosity of the society in which he lives. He just aestheticizes that lifestyle or takes it as an already sufficient aesthetic. Greg said he needs better subjects.
May 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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!
Jan 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: author-m, poems, pulitzer
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!
Julie Ehlers
Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I didn't love every single one of these poems, but the ones I did love I really loved.
Apr 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I don't usually read poetry. Sometimes, sometimes, you have to go out on a limb. I am taking an online class through my alma mater called "Living Writers" and this year one of the books is by Robert Haas. I loved it from the first poem. Just two lines. Amazing. Perfect.

If you don't read poetry either, read this. My favorites so far? "Iowa, January," "Poem with a Cucumber In It," "I am Your Waiter Tonight And My Name Is Dmitri,""Art and Life," and "Time and Materials."

There are poems that are to
Jennifer Collins
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Hass' poems offer something for every reader of poetry--varying between the lyrical and the immediate simple statement of a friend, between locations, and between abstracts and concrete pieces of culture & nature, the poems here wander from moment to moment with a fluid attention to detail that is both fascinating and worth exploring, and re-exploring.

Absolutely, I'd recommend Hass' work to any poetry reader, and to any poet.
Keith Taylor
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Hass has let his poems come slowly over the years. And, to my mind, all of them have been worth the wait. Since this book, he has done a new and selected, but so far, that's it. I'm really looking forward to Hass on old age!

Here's a little thing I wrote back in the day about this:
B.L. Bruce
Jul 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Not a fan of his longer convoluted and ambling poems. His shorter poems were beautiful, and I wish this collection had more of them. Overall the book was okay but lacking that certain quality that makes one swoon over a book of poetry.
Corie Sanford
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Just incredible.
Gina Andrews
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, poetry
Nice bunch of poems
Jul 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
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,
Nov 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Susan J.
Apr 20, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
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
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  • Failure
  • The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems, 1974-1994
  • Different Hours
  • Embryoyo: New Poems
  • Repair
  • Practical Gods
  • Fire to Fire
  • Gulf Music: Poems
  • Black Zodiac
  • Moy Sand and Gravel
  • Selected Poems
  • Selected Poems
  • Late Wife
  • After
  • The Wild Iris
  • Blizzard of One
  • Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems
  • Walking to Martha's Vineyard
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.
“It is good sometimes for poetry to disenchant us.” 8 likes
“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.”
More quotes…