Robert Pinsky, former Poet Laureate of the United States, will be on the Ursinus campus Feb. 23 at 7 p.m., for a poetry reading followed by a book signing, in the Lenfest Theater in the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center. The event is free and open to the public. Pinsky, who was the U.S. Poet Laureate from 1997 to 2000, is also a translator, essayist and teacher. His first two terms as United States Poet Laureate were marked by such national enthusiasm that the Library of Congress appointed him to an unprecedented third term. Throughout his career, Pinsky has been dedicated to identifying and invigorating poetry’s place in the world.
As Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky became a public ambassador for poetry, founding the Favorite Poem Project (FPP), in which thousands of Americans of varying backgrounds, all ages, and from every state, shared their favorite poems. Pinsky believed that poetry had a vigorous presence in the American cultural landscape. The project sought to document that presence, giving voice to the American audience for poetry. The anthology, Americans’ Favorite Poems, which include letters from project participants, is in its 18th printing. The most recent anthology, An Invitation to Poetry, comes with a DVD featuring 27 of the FPP video segments, as seen on Public Broadcasting stations. In April 2009, W.W. Norton published Essential Pleasures: A New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud, with a CD of Pinsky reading aloud.
Described as elegant and tough and vividly imaginative, Pinsky’s poems have earned praise for their musical energy and ambitious range. Gulf Music (FSG, fall 2007) is his most recent volume of poetry. His The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 was a Pulitzer Prize nominee and received both the Lenore Marshall Award and the Ambassador Book Award of the English Speaking Union.
Pinsky’s Tanner Lectures at Princeton University were published as Democracy, Culture and the Voice of Poetry (Princeton University Press, 2002). His other books about poetry include Poetry and the World, nominated for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award, and The Sounds of Poetry.
Robert Pinsky’s landmark, best-selling translation of The Inferno of Dante received the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Howard Morton Landon Prize for translation. He is also co-translator of The Separate Notebooks, poems by Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz. Pinsky’s prose book, The Life of David, is a retelling and examination of the David stories. He also wrote the libretto for Tod Machover’s opera Death and the Powers: A Robot Pagaent.
The poetry editor for the online magazine Slate, Pinsky appeared regularly on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. He was elected in 1999 to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His poems appear in magazines such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Threepenny Review, American Poetry Review, and frequently in The Best American Poetry anthologies. He teaches in the graduate writing program at Boston University. He is also the winner of the PEN/Voelcker Award, the William Carlos Williams Prize, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture’s 2006 Jewish Cultural Achievement Award in Literary Arts, and the 2008 Theodore M. Roethke Memorial Poetry Award. He is one of the few members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters to have appeared on “The Simpsons” and “The Colbert Report.”