International Rivers Board Member, Robert Hass, Wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

International Rivers heartily congratulates our board member Robert Hass for winning the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. The prestigious prize was given for his recent collection, Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005. Hass served two years as the U.S. poet laureate and has taught at the University of California, Berkeley since 1989.

Read an interview with Hass in the Berkeleyan featuring two of the poems from Time and Materials, one of which (reproduced below) concerns a dam in Thailand.

Ezra Pound's Proposition

Beauty is sexual, and sexuality
Is the fertility of the earth and the fertility
Of the earth is economics. Though he is no recommendation
For poets on the subject of finance,
I thought of him in the thick heat
Of the Bangkok night. Not more than fourteen, she saunters up to you
Outside the Shangri-la Hotel
And says, in plausible English,
“How about a party, big guy?”

Here is more or less how it works:
The World Bank arranges the credit and the dam
Floods three hundred villages, and the villagers find their way
To the city where their daughters melt into the teeming streets,
And the dam’s great turbines, beautifully tooled
In Lund or Dresden or Detroit, financed
By Lazard Frères in Paris or the Morgan Bank in New York,
Enabled by judicious gifts from Bechtel of San Francisco
Or Halliburton of Houston to the local political elite,
Spun by the force of rushing water,
Have become hives of shimmering silver
And, down river, they throw that bluish throb of light
Across her cheekbones and her lovely skin.

© Robert Hass, all rights reserved. Used with permission.