KWH Pick of the Week: “A Story About the Body” by Robert Hass, Chosen by Matt Mauch

Posted on October 22, 2012


Knox Writers’ House Contributor’s Pick of the Week 10/22 /2012

A Story About the Body by Robert Hass in San Francisco, CA

Chosen by Matt Mauch in Twin Cities, MN who says:

There are two people I’ve met in my life who I’ve wanted to simply sit and listen to, for as long as I could, for as they were willing to hold court, who’ve seemed smart beyond smart, and all I wanted to do was bask. Robert Hass is one of those people, and his poem “A Story About the Body” is one at the end of which all I wrote, after reading it for the first time in Human Wishes, was the single-word exclamation “Jesus.” Nobody would know it, looking at them side by side, but whenever I have a poem of my own that I think wants to exist in the paradoxical space that we call a prose poem, I go back to “A Story About the Body,” and read through it, and see if my poem partakes in the stuff that Hass’s does. My metric for that is a feeling I either get or don’t get. “A Story About the Body” has been, then, a touchstone poem for me, and while I can’t expect it to be that for anybody else, I do know that almost all of the people I’ve shown or read it to over the years—and I teach it, so it’s been quite a few—have responded with their own unbridled/spontaneous versions of an exclamatory “Jesus.” Any poem that does that really should be memorized and recited where and whenever you can fit it in. So do that.


Let us know what you think….post a comment or email us at