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

Posted on October 22, 2012

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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.

 

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