ROBERT PINSKY Biography - Famous Poets and dancers


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Robert Pinsky was born on October 20, 1940, in Long Branch, New Jersey. Even as           
a child, Pinsky was conscious of his love for the arts. His father, Milford               
Simon, was an optician. Sylvia, his mother, wanted her son to become an optician,         
too. Instead, Robert became the first person in his family to go to college.             
While attending Rutgers University, Pinsky copied his favorite poem?William               
Butler Yeats? ?Sailing to Byzantium??by hand, and taped it to his wall for               
inspiration. In 1961 Robert married Ellen Jane Bailey, a clinical psychologist.           
Over the course of the next 10 years, the Pinsky family would add three                   
daughters?Nicole, Caroline Rose, and Elizabeth. Upon graduation in 1962, Pinsky           
enrolled in graduate school at Stanford University in California. After                   
receiving his PhD from Stanford, he returned to the East Coast to teach at               
Wellesley College from 1968 to 1980. In 1980 he trekked back to California to             
join the English Department at The University of California at Berkeley.                 
Pinsky?s first volume of poetry, Sadness and Happiness, published in 1975,               
further intrigued him to examine literary compositions. In an attempt to explain         
his unique approach to writing poetry, Robert Pinsky published extensive volumes         
of literary criticism, including The Situation of Poetry: Contemporary Poetry in         
Its Traditions, Poetry and the World, and The Sounds of Poetry. Published in             
1976, The Situation of Poetry articulates Pinsky?s need to ?find a language for           
presenting the role of a conscious soul in an unconscious world.? Pinsky?s               
approach to poetry incorporates psychological insight, historical accounts, and           
even comedic relief.                                                                     
Pinsky?s love of knowledge and desire to create led him to publish his most               
famous poem in 1994, The Inferno of Dante: A New Verse Translation. This book             
enthralled Pinsky who said, ?I literally could not stop working on it.? He               
worked obsessively, writing until the point of sleep. ?We have pillowcases               
stained with ink where my wife took the pen out of my hand at night.? Inferno             
ended up on the best-sellers list. New Yorker contributor Edward Hirsch said, ?The       
primary strength of this translation is the way it maintains the original?s               
episodic and narrative velocity while mirroring its formal shape and character.           
It is no small achievement to reproduce Dante?s rhyme scheme and at the same             
time sound fresh and natural in English, and Pinsky succeeds in creating a               
supple American equivalent for Dante?s vernacular music where many others have           
failed.? Inferno received both The Los Angeles Times Book Review Award and the           
Howard Morton Landon Prize for Translation in 1995. Pinsky?s masterpiece                 
furthered his successful career in writing, and earned him his next job: Poet             
Laureate of the United States.                                                           
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington appointed Robert Pinsky to be the               
ninth Poet Laureate and the country?s 39th Consultant in Poetry in 1997. The             
position of Poet Laureate requires recipients to complete an annual lecture on           
their poetry as well as introduce poets in the Library?s annual poetry series (among     
the oldest in the country). In addition, the Laureate is expected to raise               
public awareness of poetry through programs and country-wide projects. The               
energetic Pinsky was elated to receive the title of Poet Laureate for three               
consecutive terms; ?American poetry has been one of our national achievements.           
Along with the honor of following the American poets who have held this post, I           
have an opportunity to continue our appreciation of that treasure. I am very             
In 1997 Pinsky also started ?The Favorite Poem Program.? Now compiled on an               
internet database, the program initially invited 100 average Americans to read           
their favorite poetry and have it recorded for the official archives of the               
Library of Congress. The program was a huge success, receiving over 18,000               
submissions and attracting people from all walks of life. During his final year           
as Poet Laureate of the United States, Pinsky served as the celebrity judge for           
the selection of the Poet Laureate for Montgomery County. Founded in 1999 by             
Joanne Leva, a resident of Lansdale, Pennsylvania, each year the Montgomery               
County Poet Laureate Program selects a local poet to write and read poems for             
county events in the coming year. Three other poets, including the celebrity             
judge, select the winner by identifying and ranking the top 25 poems submitted           
by all the applicants.                                                                   
At age 64, Robert Pinsky, a self-proclaimed email addict, currently serves as             
poetry editor for Slate, an online weekly Internet magazine. Unable to quell his         
love of the east coast, Robert left Berkley in 1988 to take a position at Boston         
University in the English department. He now teaches a poetry workshop for               
graduate students. During the baseball season, he can be spotted at Fenway Park           
cheering on the Boston Red Sox. Mr. Pinsky and his wife Ellen reside in Newton           
Corner, Massachusetts.