POETRY

Three Questions with Robert Hass

CARICATURE BY STEVE CARROLL
The poet discusses his home, his inspiration, and his study habits. 

What is your favorite place in the West?
My home country is the San Francisco Bay Area and the Sierra Nevada.

How has your translation work affected the poems you create?
From the beginning. The language of the Old and New Testaments that has filled my ears since childhood is an English translation of Hebrew and Greek texts. Our political language in the West is full of translated phrases from Latin and Greek. The word poetry is a translation from the Greek. But more specifically, for me, translation that I’ve done myself is a form of close study, and close study gets the work of others under your skin in ways that make it impossible to know exactly how it’s affected you.

Who influenced your work most significantly?
Probably the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz. For the way he kept testing and pushing what his poems could do.

Read an excerpt from Summer Snow: New Poems.

Heather Scott Partington is a writer, teacher, and book critic based in Elk Grove, California. She interviews authors for our Alta Asks and Alta Asks Live online series.