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Ryan Piurek
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Former U.S. Poet Laureates to visit IUB

Oct. 11, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind -- As Poet Laureate of the United States from 1997 to 2000, Robert Pinsky dedicated himself to educating his fellow citizens about poetry's vigorous presence in the American cultural landscape.

Photo by: Emma Dodge Hanson

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky

Print-Quality Photo

He will continue that mission later this month when he visits Indiana University Bloomington, a university with a longstanding tradition in the creative arts and humanities. The award-winning poet, scholar and translator -- and the first U.S. Poet Laureate to serve three consecutive terms -- will present a talk and reading on Oct. 26 at 4:30 p.m. at Whittenberger Auditorium in the Indiana Memorial Union.

Pinsky is one of three former U.S. Poet Laureates who will visit IUB in the coming months as part of a series on the topic of "Solitude." Pulitzer Prize-winning poets W.S. Merwin and Louise Glück will visit the campus on Nov. 13 and March 28, respectively. A fourth speaker on the subject, Temple Grandin, a noted animal scientist and "translator" from the world of autism, will deliver a talk on Nov. 7.

The events, which are being sponsored by the College Arts and Humanities Institute and Institute for Advanced Study at IUB, are free and open to the public. For more information, go to

A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Pinsky is an active ambassador for poetry through his weekly "Poet's Choice" column in the Washington Post and regular appearances on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Pinsky also is poetry editor for the online magazine Slate and is responsible for the establishment of the national Favorite Poem Project.

While serving as Poet Laureate, Pinsky founded the Favorite Poem Project, in which thousands of Americans -- of varying backgrounds and ages, and from every state -- shared their favorite poems. The project, which spawned two best-selling anthologies (America's Favorite Poems and Poems to Read), is credited with giving voice to the American audience for poetry.

Born in New Jersey, Pinksy is the author of six acclaimed collections of poetry. His collection The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1996 and received the Lenore Marshall Award and the Ambassador Book Award of the English Speaking Union. His most recent chapbook is titled First Things to Hand (2006).

Pinsky's books about poetry include Poetry and the World (1988), which was nominated for the National Book Critics' Circle Award, The Sounds of Poetry (1998) and, more recently, Democracy, Culture and the Voice of Poetry (2005). Pinsky contends that, though intimate, poetry addresses cultural needs by communicating a shared set of social meanings, a paradox that becomes part of his effort to demonstrate the complexity of American poetry.

His landmark translation of The Inferno of Dante (1994) received the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Howard Morton Landon Prize for translation. He is also co-translator of The Separate Notebooks (1986), poems by Nobel Prize-winner Czeslaw Milosz.

Pinsky was elected in 1999 to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His poems appear in magazines such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Threepenny, American Poetry Review and in the Best American Poetry anthologies. He teaches in the graduate writing program at Boston University.

His visit to Bloomington is being made possible through a Visiting Visionary Grant from the Lilly Foundation. Additional support comes from the IUB College of Arts and Sciences, the Office of the Provost, the Department of English and the Office of International Programs.

Media wishing to speak to Pinsky in advance of his visit to IUB should contact Ryan Piurek, IU Media Relations, at 812-855-5393 or