Question: What is the Favorite Poem Project?
Robert Pinsky: That is one of the main ideas behind the favorite poem project that concept that the poem finds its combination in the audience’s body and that’s an important principle I think in a democracy because the dignity of the individual is reflected in fact that the medium is on a human scale. It’s on an individual scale. It’s not a mass scale. It’s on the scale of one person’s voice saying the poem. That’s related to the other reason I undertook the project. There is a kind of glib, often reactionary, attitude that all Americans are jerks, They're yahoos. They don’t like art. They don’t like poetry. They only like their cars, their expensive clothes, and their electronic equipment and they're jusy glutinous dopes. Well now I have letters from many many thousands of Americans saying why they love poem by (inaudible), why they love poem by insurance salesman who loves an Ashbery poem. This African American woman in Washington who loves this poem by Alexander Polk reads in your translation from the Russian. Stereotypes in general, and the stereotype of Americans in particular, as though some how there have been obvious or the Russians are superior to us because they have cultures in which poetry has a settled place. Then inferior it’s not necessarily superior. We are still making up a lot of our cultures we go along. So there is that if I dare use the word patriotic aspect of the favorite poem project as well.
Recorded On: 3/25/08