The American civic poet… strives not only to speak to us with vigor and sympathy in our common language, but also to reveal how crucial that language is to our struggles and hopes as citizens. Pinsky is our finest living specimen of this sadly rare breed, and the poems of “Gulf Music” are among the best examples we have of poetry’s ability to illuminate not only who we are as humans, but who we are — and can be — as a nation.”

The New York Times Book Review

Latest News

Robert Pinsky’s “Culture” in The New Yorker

Robert Pinsky’s new poem “Culture” is featured this week in The New Yorker.

The poem as well as the audio of Pinsky reading can be found here.

The Poetry Society of America features Robert Pinsky in their series Song Cycle.

Laurence Hobgood with Robert Pinsky “It’s not just the rhythm but the melody as well that makes the sounds of a poem. (Or a sentence.) The variations in pitch are essential. The art is vocal, and every sentence has an expressive melody, as in Paul Valéry’s description of a drunken song heard from a block away. . . . There has never been a greater master of this musical core of poetry than Ben Jonson (1572-1637).”

The Poetry Society of America features Robert Pinsky performing Ben Jonson’s “His Excuse for Loving” with Stan Strickland on the saxophone, Laurence Hobgood on the keyboard, and John Lockwood on bass. Listen to the piece, and read more from Pinsky here.

Robert Pinsky’s Latest Anthology now in Paperback

Poetry For Hard TimesThe paperback edition of The Mind Has Cliffs of Fall is out now and can be found here… Robert Pinsky, “our finest living example of [the American civic poet]” (New York Times), gathers poems that cope with the most extreme human emotions.
Despair, mania, rage, guilt, derangement, fantasy: poetry is our most intimate source for the urgent, varied experience of human emotion. Poems get under our skin; they offer solace with the balm, and the sting, of understanding. In The Book of Poetry for Hard Times, former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky curates poems that explore the expanses of human emotion across centuries, from Shakespeare to Terrance Hayes, Dante to Patricia Lockwood. Each poem reveals something new about our most profound and universal experiences; taken together they offer a sweeping ode to the power of poetry. “For anyone who knows these human feelings—and almost everyone does—this book will become an essential companion.”—Eavan Boland

Peter Balakian on Robert Pinsky’s “Samurai Song” in the The Poetry Society of America

In The Poetry Society of America’s reading series Reading in the Dark, Peter Balakian shares the poem he returns to in difficult times.

“The poem takes Keats’ notion of negative capability to a more complex place by exploring how absence yields presence and how the mind finds its way into a surprise of insight grounded in paradox and reversal: “When I had / No supper my eyes dined”; “When I had no eyes I listened. / When I had no ears I thought.” The poem balances the philosophical with the existential as it navigates the imagination’s capacity to see—to move from metaphor to insight. Pinsky summons the warrior spirit in ourselves that can engage difficult times with lyric language under pressure, and with the imagination, which is, to recall Kenneth Burke’s phrase, ‘equipment for living.'”


A New Anthology edited by Robert Pinsky: The Mind Has Cliffs of Fall: Poems at the Extremes of Feeling

The Mind Has Cliffs of FallRobert Pinsky’s new anthology, The Mind Has Cliffs of Fall: Poems at the Extremes of Feeling  (W. W. Norton & Company) explores poetry at its extremes ~ despair, grief, love and rage, manic laughter.

Available at your local bookstore, at IndieBound, or at Amazon.

The Mind Has Cliffs of Fall is a thrilling rollercoaster ride of an anthology. Just when you think you have mastered the pitch and roll of one emotional extreme, you find yourself careening around a bend into a different extreme. And Pinsky’s individual selections are at once deft and surprising: a Renaissance Old Master like Fulke Greville sits cheek-by-jowl with poets like Keetje Kuipers and Katie Willingham, born within hailing distance of the present. The collection is a perfect introduction to poetry’s enduring power to explore the utmost bounds of our experience.”

—Stephen Greenblatt, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Tyrant


Robert Pinsky reading

Friday, October 1st at 7:00pm EST

Virtual Porter Square Books reading from Robert Pinsky’s newest anthology The Book of Poetry for Hard Times.

This is an online event hosted by Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA. More information here…

Featured Video

Robert Pinsky discusses the nature of poetry and its origins in sound and language as a part of the 2021 Istanbul Poetry Festival (June, 2021).

More videos