In her new collection of poetry, Hasse explores the sorrows and delights of daily life through narratives and ruminations enlivened by her lightning-quick imagination and her care in choosing just the right detail to achieve the desired effect. Her attention ranges widely, from the distant past, seen through a filter of nostalgia (as in "Summer of Love, 1967" and "Marijuana") to the humor and acceptance of aging that enliven the present, as in "Medicare Birthday" and "After a Fall." Alongside such descriptive pieces we also come upon moments of reverie, as when, in "Summoning My Dead Mother," Hasse inexplicably sees her mother at the kitchen table eating toast with honey—not her typical breakfast. The poem ends as mysteriously as it began: "she's insubstantial as wind / that stirs a willow tree / washing its long hair in lake water / and blooming for the bees."
The natural world, from butterflies to moose, makes repeated appearances; more challenging is the sequence of poems scattered here and there throughout the volume that Hasse labels "Another Day of Being White." Being the adoptive mother of two African American children gives her an unusually deep and personal perspective on the crosscurrents of inequity and strife that continue to weaken our social fabric.
Summoned is Hasse's sixth full-length volume. As poet Connie Wanek wrote: "Where else will we find—not necessarily answers, but the right questions? Are people good? Is there a God? How far does empathy extend? In Hasse's work, humor and grief often share the same neighborhood, street, house, room, soul."
Margaret Hasse grew up in South Dakota and moved to the Twin Cities after college at Stanford University. She has been active in the literary community here since 1973, teaching in an arts and corrections program in prisons, with COMPAS' poets-in-the-schools project, at the Loft, and in other settings. Her work has appeared in publications and platforms local and national, including Calyx, Poetry Northeast, Saint Paul Almanac, The Sun, Water-Stone Review, and Poetry Northeast. Hasse also edited the poetry anthology Rocked by the Waters: Poems of Motherhood, with Athena Kildegaard. Her poems have been stamped in sidewalks in St. Paul, appeared as posters on Twin Cities Metro transportation, and been used on The Writer's Almanac. During the early part of the COVID pandemic, she collaborated with artist Sharon DeMark to create Shelter, a book of paintings and poems about places of refuge. Finishing Line Press will publish her chapbook, "The Call of Glacier Park" in 2021.
"It feels to me like great luck or even wealth to live in the presence of Summoned. The title invites readers to come forward, as I gladly do. Where else will we find—not necessarily answers, but the right questions? Are people good? Is there a God? How far does empathy extend? Margaret Hasse's lyrical gift—and her wit—are on full display in Summoned. Often humor and grief share the same neighborhood, street, house, room, soul. These poems are markedly better, deeper and more thoughtful, more skilled and filled with felicitous language and images, than any I've read for a very long time. I am extremely happy they're in a book I can hold in my hands and give to people I love —Connie Wanek, poet and author of Rival Gardens"
"How lucky that Margaret Hasse was 'summoned' to write this new collection of poems, which reckons with everything from race and family (especially in her 'Another Day of Being White' series) to aging and the betrayals of the body. Throughout decades of writing companionable and necessary poems, Hasse has never lost her ability to draw readers into the joy of a moment like the one she describes in 'Night on the Town': 'We orbit like planets, following strangers/in bright coats who also follow us/blowing blue clouds of breath into the night.' At their heart, each of these poems is about relationship and intimacy, and the ways we 'orbit' each other in this troubled, beautiful world." - James Crews
"Margaret Hasse writes poems that 'speak against forgetting' with the deft care of a confident poet fully inhabiting her voice, while reasoning that 'all writing is invisible ink.' Hasse celebrates anyway––dances in December, mornings with her beloved, poetry, her vibrant younger self, a baby shower, delights in nature, challenges and blessings of the pandemic. But there is a sad wisdom behind her good fortune as Hasse considers days of being white and laments that her privileges are not available to everyone, her adopted sons most of all. These poems are completely present, fully intimate. They offer the hard-earned knowledge of a sharp observer with important things to share, and the skills to share them well." - Michael Kleber-Diggs