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To drive beside the sea
to Byblos from Beirut
and back is bound
to broaden your belief
in matters biblical.
Born and brought
from Byblos, the Bible
branded its believers
as the People of the Book.
Boarding a boat
in Byblos, Paul
of Tarsus brought
the blessings of beatitude
to breeds below
and far beyond the Bosporus.
The beautiful ballads
of Adonis were begun
in Byblos, and his wounds
still blossom as anemones
where his river bleeds
and broadens in the bay.
Because of Byblos
we are beckoned to believe
that birth and death—
which bookend both our
being here and having been—-
are not the be-
and-end-all of the free,
brief bounty of our breath.

Samuel Hazo is the author of poetry, fiction, essays, various works of translation and four plays. Governor Robert Casey named him Pennsylvania’s first State Poet 1993. He served until 2003.

From his first book, through the National Book Award finalist Once for the Last Bandit, to his newest poems, he explores themes of mortality and love, passion and art, courage and grace in a style that is unmistakably his own. He writes with equal feeling and clarity about political and artistic figures and the complex synchronicity between life and art. He is extremely interested in the wonderment and discovery that emerge in the act of writing, in the movement toward wisdom that results from the expression of feeling.

As the founder and Director/President of the International Poetry Forum, Dr. Hazo has brought more than 800 poets and performers to Pittsburgh in the past forty years. These have included Nobel Awardees (Heaney, Walcott, Paz, Milosz), Pulitzer Prize winners (Merwin, Kumin, Wilbur, Kinnell, Kooser and others), Academy Award recipients (Gregory Peck, Princess Grace of Monaco, Eva Marie Saint, Anthony Hopkins, John Houseman, Jose Ferrer) as well as public figures who understand the relationship of poetry to public speech (Senator Eugene McCarthy and Queen Noor of Jordan), playwrights and composers (Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, Gian Carlo Menotti) and new poets of significance and promise.

Dr. Hazo is McAnulty Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Duquesne University. He has received eleven honorary degrees, is an honorary Phi Beta Kappa member, and has been awarded the Hazlett Award for Excellence in Literature from the Governor of Pennsylvania, the Forbes Medal, the Elizabeth Kray Award for Outstanding Service to Poetry from New York University, and the Griffin Award from the University of Notre Dame. His recent book, Just Once, received the Maurice English Poetry Prize.