Poetry: “VIII” by Robert Haas

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8b/FI_bookstore.JPG/500px-FI_bookstore.JPG

Bookstore. Photo By Warburg

[CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

VIII,  by Robert Hass

Chester found a dozen copies of his first novel in a used book-
store and took them to the counter. The owner said, “You can’t
have them all,” so Chester kept five. The owner said, “That’ll be
a hundred and twelve dollars.” Chester said, “What?” and the
guy said, “They’re first editions, mac, twenty bucks apiece.” And
so Chester said, “Why are you charging me a hundred and
twelve dollars?” The guy said, “Three of them are autographed.”
Chester said, “Look, I wrote this book.” The guy said, “All Right,
a hundred. I won’t charge you for the autographs.”

– from Praise. © Ecco Press, 1979.

American Poet Robert Hass, born in San Francisco on March 1, 1941, received both an MA and Ph.D. in English from Stanford University.

 “Poetry,” he told interviewer David Remnick in the Chicago Review, “is a way of living….a human activity like baking bread or playing basketball.”

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About dearrosie

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18 Responses to Poetry: “VIII” by Robert Haas

  1. theonlycin says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Rosanne 🙂

  2. magsx2 says:

    Hi,
    That is haliarous, I love how he offered him the $12 off. 😆

  3. Reggie says:

    Totally hilarious!

    I love that picture of the bookshop – though I must confess, I’d be very nervous of bumping into and toppling over any of those piles, because the whole place might come down like a pack of cards!

  4. Absolutely delightful. Made me laugh out loud (so far, my out-of-print first book is .08 on amazon – guess I better buy them up!). Best of all, though, Hass’ thought that poetry is an essential part of life. I agree! Tx, dearestrosie. xo

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Julia,
      I’m glad I could make you laugh. We’re all feeling depressed with the gloomy news: the economy’s rotten, fires are raging across Texas, huge areas of the east coast are under water, and the tenth anniversary of 9/11 is hours away, that I thought we needed something to take our minds off it all.

      Have you ever come across copies of your books at second hand stores?

  5. souldipper says:

    A delightful post,Rosie! What a great story. And yes, that book store photo is something. When I’m in clutter, my mind goes to mush…I may get lost in there and never be found! 😀

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Amy,
      I love book stores like the one in the photo, because you never know what you’re going to find under all those piles of books. I wouldn’t mind getting lost in there.

  6. jane tims says:

    Hi Rosie. The irony is… he’s buying the books he wrote and his own signature! I love the photo and I want the book in the second pile over, right on the bottom… Jane

    • dearrosie says:

      Yes Jane he’s been charged top dollar for his own books with his own signature.

      I would be very interested to see how the book seller would get to that book in the second pile right on the bottom.

  7. shoreacres says:

    I love the comparison of poetry with other human activities, like bread baking and basketball. The implication is so clear – it takes practice, but it’s a craft, a learned skill that can be honed, not some mystical “something” that requires muses and smelling salts and a very, very sensitive soul. 😉

    In a way, it’s like sculpture. You get yourself a pile of words, dump them on your desk and start taking away what doesn’t belong until the form starts to emerge. Easy!

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Linda
      Exactly. Poetry isn’t a mystical something only people with sensitive souls living on tops of mountains in far off countries can do. It’s something anyone can learn with much practice, like bread baking.

      In fact you’ve shown us how one starts a poem here. “Sculpture of poetry …Dump a pile of words on your desk… take away what doesn’t belong..”

      I love the last poem you wrote:
      http://shoreacres.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/storm-surges/

  8. Priya says:

    “I won’t charge for the autographs..” That’s a good salesman.

    I agree with Linda about the comparison of poetry with other human activities being so very appropriate. We’ve made poetry a white elephant — rare, strange, and difficult to nurture. But it isn’t so.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Priya,
      I wonder why most people believe poetry is so difficult to write, and impossible to understand? I’m the first one to admit that there are poets whose work I can read many times and not understand, but that’s not the problem with the above poem. We’ve all read it and laughed.
      A good poem needs so few words to express an emotion.

  9. Barbara Rodgers says:

    Oh I love that bookstore! And the irony in the poem! Tim says he doesn’t “get” poetry – I just smile and remind him that I don’t “get” computer code. So we have cultivated a healthy mutual respect for each of our inclinations…

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Barbara,
      Did you read Robert Haas’s poem to Tim? I’d love to hear from someone who says he doesn’t “get” poetry, after he’s read a poem like this one… Hello Tim are you there???

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