In this shimmering conversation (the outgrowth of an event co-sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History and Poets House), Edward O. Wilson, renowned scientist and proponent of "consilience" or the unity of knowledge, finds an ardent interlocutor in Robert Hass, whose credo as U.S. poet laureate was "imagination makes communities." As they explore the many ways that poetry and science enhance each other, they travel from anthills to ancient Egypt and to the heights and depths of human potential. A testament to how science and the arts can join forces to educate and inspire, it ends in a passionate plea for conservation of all the planet's species.
Edward O. Wilson was an American biologist, researcher, theorist, naturalist, and author who was often dubbed "the father of sociobiology." His biological specialty was myrmecology, the study of ants, on which he was considered to be the world's leading authority. Wilson was the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Social Conquest of Earth and Anthill: A Novel, as well as the Pulitzer Prize–winning On Human Nature and (with Bert Hölldobler) The Ants. For his contributions in science and conservation, he received more than 100 awards from around the world. A professor emeritus at Harvard University, he lived in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Robert Hass' work is rooted in the landscapes of his native northern California. In his tenure as U. S. Poet Laureate, Robert Hass spent two years battling American illiteracy armed with the mantra "imagination makes communities." For Hass, everything is connected. When he works to heighten literacy, he is also working to promote awareness about the environment. Hass has published many books of poetry including Field Guide, Praise, Human Wishes and Sun Under Wood, as well as a book of essays on poetry, Twentieth Century Pleasures. Time and Materials, his 2007 poetry collection, won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. His most recent volume of poetry is The Apple Trees at Olema: New and Selected Poems. He recently published a book of essays titled What Light Can Do: Essays on Art, Imagination, and the Natural World. Awarded the MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, the National Book Critics Circle Award twice (in 1984 and 1997), and the Yale Series of Younger Poets in 1973, Hass is a professor of English at University of California-Berkeley.