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
“Democracy and the Cultural Ideal” in the Boston Globe
An op-ed from the September 10, 2018 opinion page:
“By a culture I mean not a list but a form of desire.
“When I was 17, I entered my state university. Many of my teachers were war veterans educated by a revolutionary law, the GI Bill. The state or land-grant universities were established by another law, the Morrill Act. Senator Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont proposed this legislation, only to have it defeated many times, beginning in 1857. In 1862, thanks to the secession of states whose senators had opposed it, the bill creating state universities — a landmark in American culture — passed and was signed by President Abraham Lincoln.”
At the Foundling Hospital in The Yale Review
“As the engaged reader discovers gradually and with increasing pleasure, Robert Pinsky’s new volume of poems, richly titled At the Foundling Hospital, delicately but persistently works in two ways at once. At the same time that it is a series of different kinds of what we casually call ‘lyric’ poems, it is a constellation of musings on a number of subtly related motifs. Among these motifs are foundlings, slaves, ancestors, musical instruments, shells, threads and other filaments and filiations, names – all surprisingly reticulated terms, a little, ultimately uncontainable lexical tribe – and (almost inevitably) language itself, especially in its etymological dimension.
Pinsky is a master of his trade, one of the few living American poets who deserves that appellation.”
Read more of Stephen Yenser’s review.
Latest Work: At the Foundling Hospital
The poems in Robert Pinsky’s new book, At the Foundling Hospital (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), consider personality and culture as improvised from loss: a creative effort so pervasive it is invisible.
The quest is lyrical, whether the subject is as specific as “the emanation of a dead star still alive” or as personal as the “pinhole iris of your mortal eye.”
“Stunning… These poems, with their careful word choices and refined music, demand multiple readings and reveal more each time. The collection, like two dying friends in one piece, leave ‘A shape distinct and present in the mind.’”
—Elizabeth Lund, The Washington Post