combines both traditional and postmodern poetic forms with a background in classical Greek, infusing commonplace topics with elegiac and transformational elements (see prosody and free verse). Her poems deal with universal issues of mortality, metamorphosis, and rebirth but also include personal moments of emotional vulnerability. Hadas has been influenced by James merrill, who turned away from the modernism of T. S. eliot to a poetics of transcendence.
Born and raised in New York City, Hadas, the daughter of a renowned classics scholar, studied the classics at Harvard and then spent four years in Greece, developing friendships with poets Merrill and Alan Ansen. Her arrest, trial, and subsequent acquittal for the arson of an olive oil press prompted her return to America for graduate study at Johns Hopkins (M.A., 1977) and Princeton (Ph.D., 1982). Her awards include a a number of fellowships and a prize in literature from the American Academy and institute of Arts and Letters (1995). She has taught at Columbia, Princeton, and Rutgers Universities, as well as at the Sewanee Writers Conference.
Her lifelong interest in Greek culture has permeated her poetry, supplying a variety of classical elements, and has led to translations of Euripides, Seneca, Tibul-lus, and Konstantine Karyotakis, while her involvement in the intellectual life of New York City has contributed important personal topics. Christopher Benfey has called Hadas "an urban poet and an urbane one" and compared the poems in Pass It On (1989) to Randall jarrell's late poetry (406). Assuming the voice of an educator who passes on knowledge, she incorporates personal memories of her father as well as her own teaching experiences. One poem, "Teaching Emily Dickinson," reveals her students' reactions: "She sings the pain of loneliness for one. / Another sees a life of wasted youth."
In an anthology of poems by both AIDS students and herself, Unending Dialogue: Voices from an AIDS Poetry Workshop (1991), and in her own later volume, The Empty Bed (1995), Hadas gained recognition for poetry dealing with issues of mortality. Her elegies suggest that the void caused by death can somehow be mitigated by language. In "Literary Executor" (1995), she emphasizes the incompleteness of death as having "no closure" and shows poetry as an "unfinished business," which fosters rebirth.
Hadas's poetry situates miracles or transformations in the midst of everyday experiences. As she says in "Fleshly Answers" (1998), "We are passing through the world. / This is some of what it does to us."
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