Robert Pinsky is an American poet, essayist, literary critic, and translator. From 1997 – 2000, he served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. Pinsky is the author of nineteen books, most of which are collections of his own poetry. His published work also includes critically acclaimed translations, including a collection of poems by Czeslaw Milosz and Dante Alighieri.His honors include an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, both the William Carlos Williams Award and the Shelley Memorial prize from the Poetry Society of America, the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, and a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. He is currently poetry editor of the weekly Internet magazine Slate. Pinsky has taught at both Wellesley College and the University of California, Berkeley, and currently teaches in the graduate writing program at Boston University. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Question: How has the Web changed language?
Robert Pinsky: Who could have anticipated that text would become so important and that text would become, that the very word that texting as a verb would denote something in the life of people mostly under 25. It's a good example of how unpredictable culture is. How it takes turn one would never expect and if one sings to being in far and trust to look around for things to be dismayed by you probably to pick the wrong thing something quite dismaying is very likely to happen, but I hope you are not inviting me to deplore the internet or technology. I deplore the lasting effects of the Iraqi adventure. I deplore our slowness to take climate change seriously. I deplore the decay and abandonment with the ideal of public education. There are plenty of things to be quite disturbed about as I realize I have a decade or two left here.I can't particularly deplore technology and media that's not a big problem and one of the best things I have ever done has now manifested largely by technology. The favorite poem project www.favoritepoem.org those videos, the books, the DVD with the videos that comes with an invitation to poetry from Norton. I have my writing. I have a family. I did that thing. That's there somewhere but probably in third place. A lot of that was made possible. Lot of the people who wrote to me about why they love this poem by Mary Ann Moore or Bubler or Rooder, those came through email. The computer made it possible to tabulate them and videography in the web lets disseminate them. So any teacher can tell a student go to www.favoritepoem.org somebody ask me what's your ambition for your poem. So I say “well look at surf reading that Sylvia plus nick in the candlestick. I hope somebody read something by me that way.
Recorded On: 3/25/08
Robert Pinsky: I think skepticism toward things like titles, good reviews, what the world calls distinctions, recognitions, can become mechanical, but it’s a good armor too.