What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
With rendition switcher


Question: Which poets informed your poetry? 

Robert Pinsky: William Carlos Williams was very important to me, as was Wallace Stevens. When I started reading poetry I started reading very, very voraciously and with not a lot of discrimination. So I might be reading Emily Dickinson and Allen Ginsberg at the same day, and was not particularly interested in Dickinson’s personality or the word beat or any of that. I was listening to what I was hearing and in the reading I was leaving something out, a lot of things out, concentrating very, very much on music. I was like some kid falling in love with sport or a musical instrument or a kind of animal, just everything about that thing. My teacher at Stanford after I went from Rutgers to Stanford, Ivor Winters, introduced me to the 16th century and the 17th century and people like George Gascoigne and *** Grivel and Walter Raleigh and Ben Jonson, and that is -- candy, that is ear candy. Nobody ever wrote sweeter English with a human voice than those people. So for sweetness, for kind of sugary quality, honey, the 16th century, and then Williams, Stevens, Ginsberg, Yeats was very important to me at one point.

Question: Can you recall some of those choice bits? 

Robert Pinksy: Oh yeah, easy. This is Ben Jonson's "Excuse for Loving."

Let it not your wonder move,

Less your laughter, that I love.

Though I now write fifty years,

I have had, and have my peers;

Poets, though divine, are men:

Some have loved as old again.

And it is not always face,

Clothes, or fortune, wins the race;

Or the feature, or the youth:

But the language, and the truth,

With the ardor, and the passion,

Give the lover weight, and fashion.

If you then would hear the story,

First, prepare you to be sorry,

That you never knew till now,

Either whom to love, or how:

But be glad along with me,

When you learn that this is she,

Of whose beauty it was sung,

She shall make the old Man young,

Keep the middle age at stay,

And let nothing high decay;

Till she be the reason why,

All the world for Love may die.

He is speaking so naturally. So idiomatic. And as I love to point out he is doing it in the meter of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."



Recorded On: 3/25/08






Which Poets Informed Your P...

Newsletter: Share: