“This is how culture is shared and created,” declared poet Robert Hass at the end of his visit as the 2005 Morgan Writer-in-Residence in March. After a week of events and conversations, Hass was impressed with the goals of the Morgan Writer-in-Residence Program and the opportunities it endeavors to make available to Carolina students. Students in turn were impressed with Hass’s lively intellect, wide-ranging interests, generous spirit, and respect for their own seriousness of purpose. They found their expectations for what, in department lingo, has become known as “Morgan Week,” were well met.
Hass is a major figure in contemporary American poetry. Poet Michael Chitwood, who teaches with our creative writing program, introduced Hass at the reading, hailing his “omnivorous delight in the world, its pleasures and pains” that has produced “an outstanding body of work.” Discussing Hass’s poetic gifts, Chitwood points to “his sensual lyrics that marry rich physical detail to spiritual and intellectual questionings.”
Hass’s first book, Field Guide (1973) won the prestigious Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. Three more collections followed: Praise (1979), Human Wishes (1989), and Sun Under Wood (1996), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry.
Hass served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 1995 to 1997 and is currently a Chancellor in the Academy of American Poets. In addition to recognition for his poetry, Hass won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism for his essays Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry (1984). Renowned as a translator, he collaborated for years with Nobel Laureate Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz to bring his major works into English. Hass is currently on faculty at the University of California at Berkeley.
In addition to his reading and work with the creative writing students, Hass paired with UNC’s Dr. Madeline Levine, Kenan Professor of Slavic languages and translator of Milosz’s prose, to present a session on literary translation. They shared personal reminiscences of Milosz and discussed the processes they went through to translate his work.
Established in 1993 by alumni Allen and Musette Morgan of Memphis, Tennessee, the Morgan Writer-in-Residence Program brings writers of distinction to campus each spring to teach courses; meet with students and faculty; and give lectures, readings, and symposia. Their goals for the program are to help and inspire Carolina’s writing students and also to provide a way for the campus and town communities to join in a celebration of the literary arts.