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Robert Pinsky (born October 20, 1940) is an American poet, essayist, literary critic, and translator. From 1997 to 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 Czesław Miłosz and Dante Alighieri. He teaches at Boston Universitymarker and is the poetry editor at Slate. [55083]


Robert Pinsky was born on October 20, 1940 in Long Branch, New Jersey. He received a B.A. from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and earned both an M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Stanford University, where he was a Stegner Fellow in creative writing. He was a student of poet & critic Yvor Winters at Stanford Universitymarker.

Early on, Pinsky was inspired by the flow and tension of jazz and the excitement that it made him feel. He said it was an incredible experience that he has tried to reproduce in his poetry. The musicality of poetry was and is extremely important to his work.

He received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in 1974, and in 1997 he was named the United States Poet Laureate and Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. He now lives in Cambridge, Massachusettsmarker, and teaches in the graduate writing program at Boston University.

As Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky founded the Favorite Poem Project, in which thousands of Americans of varying backgrounds, all ages, and from every state share their favorite poems. Pinsky believed that, contrary to stereotype, poetry has a strong presence in the American culture. The project sought to document that presence, giving voice to the American audience for poetry.

Pinsky is also the author of the interactive fiction game Mindwheel (1984) developed by Synapse Software and released by Broderbund.

Pinsky guest-starred in a 2002 episode of the animated sitcom The Simpsons, "Little Girl in the Big Ten", and appeared on The Colbert Report in April, 2007, as the judge of a "Meta-Free-Phor-All" between Stephen Colbert and Sean Penn. Billy Collins was first asked to judge the "Meta-Free-Phor-All" but had to turn it down due to a prior commitment.

Published works


  • Sadness and Happiness (1975)
  • An Explanation of America (1980)
  • History of My Heart (1984)
  • Dying (1984)
  • The Want Bone (1990)
  • Shirt (1990)
  • The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 (1996)
  • Jersey Rain (2000)
  • Samurai Song (2001)
  • Gulf Music: Poems (2007)
  • Impossible to tell(...)


  • Landor's Poetry (1968)
  • The Situation of Poetry (1977)
  • Poetry and the World (1988)
  • The Sounds of Poetry (1998)
  • Democracy, Culture, and the Voice of Poetry (2002)
  • The Life of David (2006)
  • Thousands of Broadways: Dreams and Nightmares of the American Small Town (2009)

Interactive fiction

  • Mindwheel (1984)

As translator

  • The Separate Notebooks by Czesław Miłosz, with Renata Gorczynski and Robert Hass (1984)
  • The Inferno of Dante: A New Verse Translation (1995)

As editor

  • Handbook of Heartbreak (1998)
  • Americans' Favorite Poems: The Favorite Poem Project Anthology, with Maggie Dietz (1999)
  • Poems to Read (2002)
  • An Invitation to Poetry (2004)
  • Essential Pleasures: A New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud (2009)

Honors and awards

Notes and references

Notes and citations

  1. Stanford citation
  2. New Page 1
  3. Interactive Fiction

Books and printed materials

  • The Art of Poetry LXXVI: Robert Pinsky" The Paris Review No. 144 (1997), 180-213 (interview)

Online Resources

External links

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