Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Israel News

Poet Laureate in Tel Aviv

This past week, two-time poet laureate Robert Hass visited Israel for the first time in his life. He jokes that he’s been fascinated with Israel ever since, as a child, he saw the movie “Exodus.” “I belong to the generation that grew up on Paul Newman and Sal Mineo,” he said. More seriously, Hass also says that with the exception of Russia’s St. Petersburg, Israel is the place he’s read the most about without ever having been there. Hass’s wife, Brenda Hillman, who is Jewish, worked on a kibbutz when she was in her early 20s, and her stories were another inspiration.

The San Francisco-based poet, who recently won the National Book Award and teaches at Berkeley University of California, Berkeley, was invited to Tel Aviv University to participate in an academic conference on the relationship between literature and the environment. Hass is a passionate environmental activist, and he utilized his status as poet laureate to promote environmental education in schools across America.

In Hass’s view, poetry grapples with the ethical questions that are posed by science. “Human beings have to know when they’ve gone too far,” Hass said. “How many wetlands for how many birds, and which birds? That is one of most important philosophical questions for the 21st century.”

Engage

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.