Robert Pinsky, Former Poet Laureate, to Speak at Williams, March 6

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., Feb. 27, 2001 — Robert Pinsky, former Poet Laureate of the United States, will give a public reading on Tuesday, March 6, at 8 p.m. at the Adams Memorial Theatre. The reading will precede a commentary and question and answer time. A reception and book signing will follow the evening program.
Robert Pinsky

Pinsky teaches in the graduate writing program at Boston University. He is also a frequent contributor to The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS and poetry editor of the online journal Slate. As Poet Laureate, he served as consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress.

“Contrary to the image of the United States,” Pinsky said, “there are many Americans for whom poetry is important. People have a favorite poem, from the guy who mops floors to the CEO of a corporation.”

The well-received Favorite Poem Project, initiated by Pinsky to bring poetry and just-plain-folks together, began in 1997 and culminated in an audio and video archive of average Americans reading their favorite poems.

“The medium of poetry is a human voice,” Pinsky has said. “The medium of poetry is not the poem performed by the poet or a skilled actor or performer. The medium of poetry is the voice of whoever loves the poem and says it aloud. That makes it an art on a very individual and personal scale, by its nature. There’s something special about the way people listen to one another in this circumstance. There’s a kind of encouragement and attention and respect; I respect you when you’re reading aloud some words that you love and you respect me when I’m reading aloud the words I love.”

He is the author of “The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1965-1995,” which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and received the Lenore Marshall Award and the Ambassador Book Award of the English Speaking Union. Pinsky was the recipient of the William Carlos Williams Prize for “History of My Heart.” His other works include “The Want Bone,” “An Explanation of America,” “Sadness and Happiness,” “Poetry and the World,” and “The Situation of Poetry.” He has also translated Dante.

“Since I can remember, I’ve liked words and the sounds of words and the sounds of sentences,” he has said.

His poems have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies including The New Yorker, Paris Review, The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, The Harper American Literature, and The Harvard Book of Contemporary Poetry. From 1979 to 1986 he was poetry editor of The New Republic.

Before joining the Boston University faculty, he taught at Wellesley College and the University of California at Berkeley.