The Poetry of Strand and Hass

Mark Strand and Robert Hass have both influenced my writing: I took a workshop with Strand last year and over the summer I was urged to read Hass's collection Human Wishes (1989) and still have goosebumps from the experience.

Both poets have new, retrospective books out and I was intrigued to find an article in The New Yorker comparing the two gray-haired versifiers. Previously I never would have connected Strand and Hass's styles but Dan Chiasson makes some interesting and convincing arguments...

From The New Yorker:

Both poets have new, retrospective books: Strand’s is “New Selected Poems” (Knopf; $26.95), heavy on his work of the past twenty years; Hass’s is “Time and Materials” (Ecco; $22.95), his first book of new poems in a decade. They sound nothing alike. Strand is almost always suave, while Hass can be disarmingly, even embarrassingly, intimate; Strand is cunning, while Hass is candid. I am sure that they read each other; I have no idea whether they admire each other’s work. Comparisons are odious. But the strange fact is that Hass is best when, within his own range, he aspires to a Strand-like coolness, while Strand, in his sublime recent work, has found (always at a slant) a way of sounding like a confidant. Both long ago outgrew the manners that made them famous; their recent poems feel like repudiations of early, too easy mastery.

More here.

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