Robert Pinsky

Robert Pinsky on the passing of time

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Each phase of life brings new information about life, Pinsky says gratefully.

Robert Pinsky

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.


Robert Pinsky: Thank God. Each phase of life brings more information about life and when you get old enough to have a significant number of contemporaries who have died, it’s different from theoretically thinking about having contemporaries who have died.

And your relation to your parents changes as you pass ages that you can remember them quite well.

I say thank God because for the artist you want things that have a sense of change and a sense of discovery and getting older so far has a serious of discoveries to it. Your relation to time is different. May be I could have said 15 or 20 years ago.

The time doesn’t only fly, it accelerates. Now I really know that accelerates. If I think I read something in a magazine a few weeks ago it’s probably a few months ago. If I think I saw someone or did something a year ago, it was probably three years ago because my old sense of time is subject to this acceleration and that’s interesting or little panic making, it is also something exciting about it and interesting about it and you are constantly getting used to the idea of that people are 20 who you think of is 12, people are 9 who you think of is 3, and be people are 80 and 75 whom you think of is 50 and 40 and that’s interesting.

Robert Pinsky: Why time accelerates as you get older I suppose because the reality of the end becomes practically closer. I don’t know if that explains it completely, but I believe I am not alone in this perception. It’s like some physical process. It’s like when the arrow glass is going to sand seems to go very quickly at the very end and the water ---- at the bathtub. It’s something like that.

March 25, 2008

  • My Profund Skepticism of Success

    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.