Skip to content

Robert Pinsky

Poet

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.


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. 

How My Mind Writes Poems

Robert Pinsky: At the airport, everybody else was listening to the clatter of CNN in the background and announcements about other flights, and I was getting some work done.  

On Living Merrily and Trusting Good Verses

The last thing a young artist should do in poetry or any other field is think about what’s in style, what’s current, what are the trends.  Think instead of what you like to read, what do you admire, what you like to listen to in music. 

Poetry is the Essence of Education

The best argument for teaching poetry is to put a three-year-old or a four-year-old and read Dr. Seuss, or Robert Louis Stevenson, and to feel how the child and you are engaging in something that’s really basic to the animal, which is passing on in these rhythmic ways, something that came from somewhere. 

The Poetic Mindset is a Gift of Evolution

We use our own body to make poetry. There is no fiddle, there is no paint, it’s the air that comes out of your body shaped in ways that have evolved and that are controlled by our brain.