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Release: April 26, 2002
UI faculty member Robert Hass is elected to American Academy of Arts and
Robert Hass, a visiting faculty member in the University of Iowa Writers
Workshop, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The
former U.S. Poet Laureate will be inducted into the academy in May.
The American Academy of Arts and Letters is limited to 250 members, so new
members are selected only when vacancies occur. Election to membership in
the academy is considered one of the highest recognitions of artistic merit
in this country.
Founded in 1898 as the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the academy
is an honorary society of preeminent American writers, composers, painters,
sculptors and architects. Its original members included Henry Adams, Childe
Hassam, Mark Twain, William and Henry James and, for their literary achievements,
future presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. The academy also
has an honorary membership of 75 foreign artists to strengthen cultural ties
with other countries. The academy presents annual literary awards, of which
Hass has been a recipient.
Hass was a visiting faculty member in the Writers Workshop in 1995
when he was selected U.S. poet laureate, a post he held from 1995 to 1997.
He has won the MacArthur Genius Fellowship and twice received
the National Books Critic Circle Award. His first book, Field Guide,
earned the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award in 1973.
Hass other collections of poetry include Praise, Human
Wishes and Sun Under Wood. He also wrote Twentieth-Century
Pleasures, a book of essays on poetry. He has translated many of the
works of Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz and is the editor of Thomas Transtromers
Selected Poems: 1954-1986 and The Essential Haiku: Versions
of Basho, Buson, and Issa. He was co-editor of The Best American
As U.S. poet laureate, Hass placed an emphasis on literacy and ecological
awareness. He helped promote and organize Watershed, a weeklong gathering
of writers and environmentalists designed to teach inner-city children about
the nation s tradition of nature writing.
In addition to his time at the UI, Hass has taught at the State University
of New York, Buffalo and St. Marys College. A professor of English at
the University of California-Berkeley since1989, Hass was named Educator of
the Year in 1997 by the North American Association on Environmental Education.
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