Pinsky: "Americans Are Not Just Gluttonous Dupes." What's Your Favorite Poem?
Get in to the holiday spirit by listening to Robert Pinsky read Dante's Paradiso.
What's the Big Idea?
As the United States Poet Laureate and Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, Robert Pinsky founded the Favorite Poem Project, a program dedicated to celebrating, documenting and encouraging poetry's role in Americans' lives. Pinsky asks Americans to submit videos or tapes of themselves reading their favorite poems, then uploads them to this website. Behind the Favorite Poem Project is the concept that poetry is the height of humanism -- a medium which reflects the values of democracy and "the dignity of the individual."
It's an inherently patriotic idea, says Pinsky, who told Big Think: "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 gluttonous dopes." Pinsky says he gets thousands of letters from Americans every year saying what their favorite poem is and why. So what's yours? Let us know in the comments section below.
Watch Robert Pinsky reflect on the passage of time, a major theme of poetry:
What's the Significance?
Just as March is the season for college basketball, and autumn brings an embarrassment of riches for football fans, the holidays may be the best time of year for poetry. There are the songs and carols we all know by heart. And of course, there are written works aplenty -- from Clement Moore to Dickens to Joyce -- with a little something for everyone.
Twas the Night Before Christmas, by Clement Moore
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there...
The Savior Must Have Been a Docile Gentleman, by Emily Dickinson
The Savior must have been
A docile Gentleman—
To come so far so cold a Day
For little Fellowmen—
The Road to Bethlehem
Since He and I were Boys
Was leveled, but for that 'twould be
A rugged Billion Miles—
The anti-consumerist who hates cornball relatives
Christ Climbed Down, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
and ran away to where
there were no rootless Christmas trees
hung with candy canes and breakable stars...
Christmas Tree, by James Merrill
That there was nothing more to do...
Every Who Down in Whoville, The Tall and the Small, by Dr. Seuss
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?"...
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store."
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"
And what happened then? Well...in Whoville they say,
That the Grinch's small heart Grew three sizes that day!
Get in to the holiday spirit by listening to Robert Pinsky read Dante's Paradiso, one of his own favorites:
Editor's Note: This list admittedly skews heavily towards American poetry. Let us know what we've missed. (Robert Pinsky believes in you!)
Don't underestimate the power of play when it comes to problem-solving.
- As we get older, the work we consistently do builds "rivers of thinking." These give us a rich knowledge of a certain kind of area.
- The problem with this, however, is that as those patterns get deeper, we get locked into them. When this happens it becomes a challenge to think differently — to break from the past and generate new ideas.
- How do we get out of this rut? One way is to bring play and game mechanics into workshops. When we approach problem-solving from a perspective of fun, we lose our fear of failure, allowing us to think boldly and overcome built patterns.
Controversial map names CEOs of 100 companies producing 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
- Just 100 companies produce 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
- This map lists their names and locations, and their CEOs.
- The climate crisis may be too complex for these 100 people to solve, but naming and shaming them is a good start.
The surprising results come from a new GLAAD survey.
- The survey found that 18- to 34-year-old non-LGBTQ Americans reported feeling less comfortable around LGBTQ people in a variety of hypothetical situations.
- The attitudes of older non-LGBTQ Americans have remained basically constant over the past few years.
- Overall, about 80 percent of Americans support equal rights for LGBTQ people.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.