Yesterday I found out that one of the professors at my alma mater (not one of my professors, since I never took an English class while I was there)--Robert Hass--won the Pulitzer for his latest book of poetry, "Time and Materials." At the risk of sounding sickeningly school-spirited--Go Bears!
I'd been wanting to read more of his work, and I have another book of his, "Human Wishes," sitting on my shelf--if not entirely unread, merely browsed so far. I lucked out and found two poems from his new book at the end of a fascinating online interview. I usually don't feel like getting too political on this blog, but I couldn't help but think about last week's contribution from D Elzey from a book of poems entitled "America at War." This Hass poem would make a great addition, methinks:
From Horace: Three Imitations
Odes, 3.2 Angustam amice pauperiem pati
Let the young, toughened by a soldier’s training,
Learn to bear hardship gladly
And to terrify Parthian insurgents
From the turrets of their formidable tanks.
Also to walk so easily under desert skies
That the mother of some young Sunni
Will see a marine in the dusty streets
And turn to the daughter-in-law beside her
And say with a shudder: Pray God our boy
Doesn’t stir up that Roman animal
Whom a cruel rage for blood would drive
Straight to the middle of any slaughter...
Click here to read the rest of the poem. More crown sonnets and Poetry Friday contributions can be found at A Wrung Sponge.
It seemed fitting that I'd find out about a Berkeley professor winning the Pulitzer on the same day that I was giving something back to the school by volunteering as an interviewer for alumni leadership scholarships. Last night, I spent about four hours in a little room with three other alumni, asking local high school seniors about their leadership experiences. There were 14 interviews, each one of them awe-inspiring and humbling.
When I write about young adults, I usually try to write about characters who are intelligent, creative, and relatively socially aware and busy; but these students were exceptional. It made me wonder: do I "dumb down" my characters, make them less complex and active than they could be? Do any of you other writers find yourself struggling over how much your characters should achieve in order to remain realistic and/or still appeal to the non-overachievers out there? I'm curious!