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1. The Figured Wheel: New and Collected
2. Essential Pleasures: A New Anthology
3. The Sounds of Poetry: A Brief
4. Thousands of Broadways: Dreams
5. The Life of David (Jewish Encounters)
6. Americans' Favorite Poems
7. The Inferno of Dante: A New Verse
8. First Things to Hand: Poems (Quarternote
9. The Inferno of Dante : A New Verse
10. Gulf Music: Poems
11. Sadness and Happiness
12. Poems to Read: A New Favorite
13. Jersey Rain: Poems
14. I'll Tell What I Saw: Select Translations
15. The Situation of Poetry
16. Democracy, Culture and the Voice
17. Five American Poets: Robert Hass,
18. An Explanation of America (Princeton
19. The Want Bone (American Poetry
20. History of My Heart: Poems

1. The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems, 1966-1996
by Robert Pinsky
 Paperback: 320 Pages (1997-04-07)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$4.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374525064
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The Figured Wheel fully collects the first four books of poetry, as well as twenty-one new poems, by Robert Pinsky, the former U.S. Poet Laureate.

Critic Hugh Kenner, writing about Pinsky's first volume, described this poet's work as "nothing less than the recovery for language of a whole domain of mute and familiar experience." Both the transformation of the familiar and the uttering of what has been hitherto mute or implicit in our culture continue to be central to Pinsky's art. New poems like "Avenue" and "The City Elegies" envision the urban landscape's mysterious epitome of human pain and imagination, forces that recur in "Ginza Samba," an astonishing history of the saxophone, and "Impossible to Tell," a jazz-like work that intertwines elegy with both the Japanese custom of linking-poems and the American tradition of ethnic jokes. A final section of translations includes Pinsky's renderings of poems by Czeslaw Milosz, Paul Celan, and others, as well as the last canto of his award-winning version of the Inferno.
Amazon.com Review
KathaPollitt writes that these are "extraordinarily accomplishedand beautiful poems." Pinsky is a respected critic and translatorand, as a poet, is a genius of sound and lineation. He also excels atthe startling image, as when he describes a brain as "humming toitself, / Like a fat person eating M&Ms in the bathtub." Thevividness of the image grabs our attention even as its poignancy andcruel edge complicate the tone of this intricate poem ("Historyof My Heart"). An impressive and moving collection. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

3-0 out of 5 stars two roads
Technically brilliant, sonically frugal, stylistically innovative, thematically esoteric, topically abundant and educated. Sure.

Pinksy is all these good things, but ultimately hollow. He perks the mind but dulls the soul. But no matter. He has given to poetry what he can: a voice and face, a teacher's wisdom, a word to the masses, and (of course) technically pristine verse. This is as far as his person can take him - and he should go no further.

He's aced poetry, but failed to do what the greats do: transcend his very words. Keats fills me, while with Dickinson, I shrivel. Of Pinsky, I think of Frost, down the road more travelled.

5-0 out of 5 stars phenomenal!
This is one of the best books of poetry I've ever read. I personally own over 100 books of poetry, including anthologies and I can say, without a doubt, this may be one of the best books written in modern times and certainly in our lifetime.

5-0 out of 5 stars solid, solid work
I guess his work is so controversial because it's so thoroughly formalist in a time of experimentation.He is a very feeling person, a poet of feeling & great genius.He addresses all sorts of themes in these poems.All sorts, from the serenely bucolic [he sometimes begins poems by showing the reader that he's been sure to learn things about what he uses for images) to overtly sexual experiments that he says in the poem make you feel dirty.In one he muses about philosophy in general, which he declares as a poet is not his field, not quite, as nothing can stop the poet from thinking (no matter how much exile that means, I must add)but the thinking of poetry is be for poetry.

He is a very important poet.He was honored with the distinction of U.S. poet laureate three times in a row -- the first ever to be three times in a row -- because he's done more work for the vitality of poetry than almost any other person alive, matched or nearly matched by very few.In his scholarship, he studies everything so intently.In his writing, he channels the world through an equally unsparing dedication to mastery.

1-0 out of 5 stars Pinsky
Here began the death of all substantial poets.

5-0 out of 5 stars Metaphysical Poetry for the people
In contrast to, say, John Ashbery, Charles Simic, or Mark Strand, Robert Pinsky's poetry is practically unknown among literary circles in Europe. I guess it is Pinsky's variety both in tone and subject matter, which make him hard to place, and maybe even more, his obviously positive attitude towards life and ordinary people, which make it impossible for him ever to become the darling of European intellectuals.

Writing a long poem called "An Explanation of America" makes it look as if Pinsky wanted to place himself in the tradition of Whitman. And there is something Whitmanesque (?) in the sheer width of Pinsky's concerns - in contrast to contemporaries who dig in the same ground over and over again, Pinsky's imagination tries to encompass the variousness of what's going on around him and in his mind. Just flicking through the table of contents will show you that "Jesus and Isolt"or "The New Saddhus" sit comfortably side by side with what seems like childhood memoirs. Pinsky's humour and sense of irony are a far cry from Whitman, however, and so is his stylistic variety which matches the one of his concerns.

The Pinsky I like best is the one of the rather short, unpretentious poems like "The Beach Women". Here, the speaker recalls his youthful fascination with thirtyish women in the 50s:
"On those days I admired their tans, white dresses, / And pink oval fingernails on brown hands, and sold them / Perfume and lipstick, aspirins, throat lozenges and Tums, / Tampax, newspapers an paperback books - brave stays / Against boredom, discomfort, death and old age."

Other poems may seem daunting by the learnedness they display or by the whimsy of their conceits (I guess that is what put off some of the readers here), but I can only advise you to come back to those poems again - Pinsky's are poems you will not forget; and the more you are familiar with his poetry, the more you will appreciate it.

If Pinsky starts in a Whitmanesque vein ("possible to feel briefly like Jesus, / A gust of diffuse tenderness"), he is honest enough to go on: "But how love falters and flags / When anyone's difficult eyes come / Into focus, terrible gaze of a unique / Soul, its need unlovable" - but he does not leave it at that either. Find out for yourself! ... Read more

2. Essential Pleasures: A New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud
Hardcover: 508 Pages (2009-04-06)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$14.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393066088
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A vibrant anthology and accompanying CDthat revive a great American tradition: the joyof reciting poetry aloud.This lively, abundant book is distinguished byits focus on hearing poetry read aloud. RobertPinsky, beloved for his ability to bring poetryto life as spoken language, has collected poemsthat sound marvelous in a reader’s actual orimagined voice. Pinsky has organized the bookinto sections with brief introductions thatemphasize the attentive, intuitive, andreflective process of listening to poetry. Thisstructure provides an implicit, generousdefinition-by-example of poetry itself:beginning with “Short Lines, Frequent Rhymes”and “Long Lines” and proceeding throughfundamental themes such as “Love Poems,” “Odes,Complaints, and Celebrations,” and “Jokes,Ripostes, Parodies, and Insults.”

Essential Pleasures gives a freshsetting to traditional favorites, includingpoems by William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson,and Robert Frost, placed among contemporarypoems by John Ashbery, Louise Glück, YusefKomunyakaa, and many others. This is an inviting and distinguished collection and an essentialbook for every home.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read aloud poetry
It would be redundant (and daunting) to provide a comprehensive review of this superb collection of poems in view of the sterling contribution by Dennis Littrell. I urge anyone interested in this book to read Mr. Littrell's review.

I'ld like to chime in with the great joys for both reader and listener from reading poetry aloud. My wife and I have enjoyed many of the entries in this excellent complilation, and it has been particularly interesting to listen to Pinsky's version and then to try my own hand in a repeat performance.

My wife tended to prefer Pinsky -- I'm certainly not a poet or an actor -- but in a few cases she preferred my version. For no good reason beyond personal pride, my better performances included:

To my Dear and loving Husband -- Anne Bradstreet
Bethsabe's Song -- George Peele
A Married State -- Katherine Philips
My True Love Hath My Heart and I Have His -- Philip Sidney

understandable, perhaps, but then surprisingly

Epitaph on a Hare -- William Cowper

The reading sessions were generally joyous and rewarding, but each one has provided an excellent dividend: I enjoy reading poetry to myself much more than in the past, now that I have several months of declaiming under my belt. Somehow, my tin ear has been cured, and my enjoyment deepened.

For a book of poetry that is chosen to be read aloud, this is a superb choice.

Robert C. Ross2010

5-0 out of 5 stars Fine collection with a bonus CD
Most poems should in fact be read aloud.Part of the power of poetry is in the spoken word, the sound that reverberates around the head and through the heart and mind.Poetry is in fact a non-linear expression that engages more than the denotative sense of words.It is a way of achieving through various poetic devices: allusion, alliteration, consonance, rhythm, rhyme, sound and even typography, a depth of meaning and experience not possible from mere prose.

Still it is true that some poems sound better read aloud than others, and Robert Pinsky, U.S. Poet Laureate 1997-2000, has come up with a collection of some of the best ever written, designed to please both ear and mind.

The organization is in seven parts.Part I features "Short Lines, Frequent Rhymes," e.g., Gwendolyn Brooks, "We Real Cool"; Robert Frost, "Dust of Snow"; Gerard Manley Hopkins, "Spring and Fall"; Edgar Allan Poe, "Fairy-Land"; five by Emily Dickinson, and twenty-six more.Notice that for the most part the selected poems are not necessary the poet's best or best known.And perhaps the greatest accomplishment in English that might fall under the heading of "Short Lines, Frequent Rhymes," namely Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" doesn't appear perhaps because of its length.I would have liked to have seen included e e cummings's "anyone lived in a pretty how town."

Part II "Long Lines, Strophes, Parallelisms" features the first three chapters of Ecclesiastes; "When You're Lying Awake" from W.S. Gilbert; Allen Ginsberg's inspired musings on Walt Whitman, "A Supermarket in California"; a couple from Walt Whitman and fourteen others.In his introduction to this part, Pinsky presents some thoughts of how stanzas might break down, how lines might be divided and how the energy and sense of a poem might thereby be affected.

Part III is "Ballads, Repetitions, Refrains," an eclectic presentation including Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky'; Julia Ward Howe's "Battle-Hymn of the Republic"; Pinsky's own "Samurai Song"; Edwin Arlington Robinson's "Miniver Cheevy," etc., and this famous anonymous gem:

Western wind, when will thou blow,
The small rain down can rain?
Christ, that my love were in my arms
And I in my bed again!

Part IV: "Love Poems" includes Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach" with its beautiful turn to open the last stanza: "Ah, love, let us be true/To one another!..."; Robert Herrick's "Upon Julia's Clothes"; Andrew Marvell's famous "To His Coy Mistress"; something from Sappho, three sonnets from Shakespeare, and many more.

Part V gives us "Stories" of which my favorite is "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot which Pinsky rightly sees as more of a story poem than a love poem; Robert Browning's chilling "My Last Duchess"; Shelley's cautionary tale, "Ozymandias"; Wilfred Owen's take on that old lie, "Dulce Et Decorum Est"; Ernest Lawrence Thayer's popular "Casey at the Bat"; and thirty-five more.

Part VI is entitled "Odes, Complaints, and Celebrations" and it features William Blake's "The Tyger"; which is a celebration of sorts; Coleridge's beautiful opium dream "Kubla Khan"; "Ode on a Grecian Urn," "Ode to a Nightingale," and "To Autumn" from Keats; and many others.

In Part VII Pinsky gives us "Parodies, ripostes, Jokes and Insults" including Eliot insulting himself in "How Unpleasant to Meet Mr. Eliot" while parodying Edward Lear's "How Pleasant to Know Mr. Lear" (also included); and some thirty-five more.Here's Theodore Roethke's joke on the square entitled "Academic":

The stethoscope tells what everyone fears:
You're likely to go on living for years,
With a nurse-maid waddle and a shop-girl simper,
And the style of your prose growing limper and limper.

Pinksy provides an introduction to each part.There's a CD included with the book in which Pinsky reads twenty-one of the poems including "Ode to a Nightingale," and Milton's "Methought I saw my late espoused saint."I must observe that while Pinsky reads very well and it was a pleasure to hear him, he might want to redo his reading of Emily Dickinson's "The Soul selects her own Society" since he has the wrong meaning of "present" as evidenced by his pronunciation "prez'ent" instead of "pri-zent'" with the accent on the second syllable.The sense in the poem

The Soul selects her own Society--
Then--shuts the Door--
To her divine Majority--
Present no more--

Unmoved--she notes the Chariots--pausing--
At her low Gate--
Unmoved--an Emperor be kneeling
Upon her Mat--

I've known her--from an ample nation--
Choose One--
Then--close the Values of her attention--
Like Stone--

is that it is no use to present to her anymore since she is "unmoved" and has closed the Values of her attention--/Like stone--."(NOT that her divine Majority is no longer present.)The sense is that of the Soul as a kind of exalted royalty that one might present before.

This quibbling aside, Pinsky has put together a most interesting and entertaining poetry experience, one that I highly recommend.

4-0 out of 5 stars Sparked A Poetry Reading at Work
I heard the author interviewed on NPR, and it sparked an idea: I would arrange a poetry reading at work as part of my Toastmasters group activities. So, it worked. There are many familiar, and new poets in this book, but that's not why I got it. It was all part of the spirit of National Poetry Month, and arranging the reading. So, thanks to the author for the inspiration.
Mike ... Read more

3. The Sounds of Poetry: A Brief Guide
by Robert Pinsky
Paperback: 144 Pages (1999-09-01)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$6.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374526176
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The Poet Laureate's clear and entertaining account of how poetry works.

"Poetry is a vocal, which is to say a bodily, art," Robert Pinsky declares in The Sounds of Poetry. "The medium of poetry is the human body: the column of air inside the chest, shaped into signifying sounds in the larynx and the mouth. In this sense, poetry is as physical or bodily an art as dancing."

As Poet Laureate, Pinsky is one of America's best spokesmen for poetry. In this fascinating book, he explains how poets use the "technology" of poetry--its sounds--to create works of art that are "performed" in us when we read them aloud.

He devotes brief, informative chapters to accent and duration, syntax and line, like and unlike sounds, blank and free verse. He cites examples from the work of fifty different poets--from Shakespeare, Donne, and Herbert to W. C. Williams, Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, C. K. Williams, Louise Glück, and Frank Bidart.

This ideal introductory volume belongs in the library of every poet and student of poetry.
Amazon.com Review
While it's hardly the most traveled of literary destinations, poetry hassuffered from no shortage of guidebooks. Still, these poetic baedekers tendto get bogged down in terminology and historical hairsplitting, while theactual music gets lost in the shuffle. We should be thankful, then, forRobert Pinsky's brief, wonderfully readable volume, in which he zooms inon verse as acoustic artifact: "When I say to myself a poem by Emily Dickinsonor George Herbert, the artist's medium is my breath. The reader's breathand hearing embody the poet's words. This makes the art physical, intimate,vocal, and individual."

Not that Poet Laureate Pinsky gets vague or touchy-feely on us. Poetry,like God, is in the details, and the author starts with the buildingblocks, the amino acids, of verse: accent and duration. Even the most jadedof readers will benefit from his syllable-by-syllable examination of ThomasCampion's "Now Winter Nights Enlarge" and Wallace Stevens's "SundayMorning." Moving on through discussions of syntax and line, meter and rhyme(or lack thereof), Pinsky enlists both the usual suspects (Shakespeare,Frost, Hardy, Eliot, Bishop) and some less customary ones (Gilbert &Sullivan, Louise Gluck, and the splendid James McMichael) to make hispoints. These poems are, in some sense, teaching tools for the author. Yeteven his on-the-fly commentary causes us to see them in a new light. Herehe is, for example, on the near-monotonous minimalism of W.C. Williams's"To a Poor Old Woman": "The poem dramatizes the taking in of a supposedlyordinary experience, and the playful, almost hectoring repetitions are likean effective sermon in praise of simplicity." The Sounds of Poetryis no less effective a sermon. It leaves your ear (and your heart) attunedto the pleasurable play of poetic language and persuades you that hearingis, indeed, believing. --James Marcus ... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Small but Immensely Valuable Book
Pinksky's close careful discussion of how sound works in poetry is immensely instructive, like being taken on a leisurely tour through an art museum accompanied by a first-rate docent. After reading this book, unless you are either already a superb reader or supremely stupid, you will find new registers, new nuances in poems you thought you knew through and through. William Carlos Williams called poems "machines made of words": Pinsky takes several poems apart and carefully points out and explains the workings of some of their most delicate and precise inner mechanisms. I know of no other book that treats this subject as well.

3-0 out of 5 stars aLAS this BOOK is DRY as DUST
I actually learned from this book -- in particular, gained an understanding of relative stress and of how the best free verse incorporates meter -- but Pinsky, though he has the love, is dry as can be, bless him.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction
Robert Pinsky's The Sounds of Poetry is an invaluable guide to the most critical--and one of the most neglected--aspects of poetic writing: sound. I first read this book when taking an undergrad poetry-writing course, and I found it immensely helpful.

Pinsky takes a great deal of potentially clunky, academic information and distills it into a fast, easily-digestible handbook. In just over 100 pages, he outlines the essentials of rhythm, meter, the meaning carried by sounds, and the interrelation of all three. For anyone who has read, studied, or written poetry before, there won't be much new here, but having so much good advice in such a concentrated form makes this little book an excellent read. Even several years after taking that course, I still find myself browsing this book, looking for helpful reminders and inspiration.

Pinsky's book is not only helpful and informative, it's a fast, fun read--it both delights and informs. Horace would be proud.

Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not a dull manual
Don't be deceived by the bad reviews you see from a few others here. What likely disappoints them about this book is its refusal to be useable, to give a method to read or write rhythm, to make illusory markings of beats or syllables. Far from reducing poetry to a scheme, Pinsky brings out the uniqueness of every line, every sounding of words together. He shows how the power of a poem involves tones and speeds and flows of sound played against subtle turns of syntax.

He shies away from neat categories of verse. Instead, he'll show marvels, such as iambic pentameters within Ginsberg's "Howl."

Not only can you learn about poetry here, but find such sentences as: "The emotion, the sexual horniness, produces an artifact of extravagant control." Rather than a book to pick up for practice or study, I found it was hard to put down.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Guide to Hearing Poetry Better
Too many poetry books (and teachers) approach meter as though it were a clearly defined binary system of equally stressed and equally unstressed syllables. Robert Pinsky is largely successful at showing how to appreciate the rich variety of sounds in the English language while avoiding a lot of technical terms and descriptions. It's important to keep in mind that this is not intended as an overview of the basics of poetry, but a "brief guide" to one aspect of how poetry works. He discusses rhythm and meter (including the effects of duration and pitch), rhyme and its variations, and blank and free verse. There were a few aspects of the book I didn't fully agree with. Pinsky treats all meter as variations of iambic. He includes some elements of word choice (particularly etymology) that are not convincingly related to sounds. And his tone is at times too simplistic - not condescending, exactly, but annoyingly dumbed down. However, this short book is well worth reading to get a poet's perspective on the importance of sound in verse. ... Read more

4. Thousands of Broadways: Dreams and Nightmares of the American Small Town (The Rice University Campbell Lectures)
by Robert Pinsky
Hardcover: 106 Pages (2009-05-15)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$8.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0226669440
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Broadway, the main street that runs through Robert Pinsky’s home town of Long Branch, New Jersey, was once like thousands of other main streets in small towns across the country. But for Pinsky, one of America’s most admired poets and its former Poet Laureate, this Broadway is the point of departure for a lively journey through the small towns of the American imagination. Thousands of Broadways explores the dreams and nightmares of such small towns—their welcoming yet suffocating, warm yet prejudicial character during their heyday, from the early nineteenth century through World War II.

The citizens of quintessential small towns know one another extensively and even intimately, but fail to recognize the geniuses and criminal minds in their midst. Bringing the works of such figures as Mark Twain, William Faulkner, Alfred Hitchcock, Thornton Wilder, Willa Cather, and Preston Sturges to bear on this paradox, as well as reflections on his own time growing up in a small town, Pinsky explores how such imperfect knowledge shields communities from the anonymity and alienation of modern life. Along the way, he also considers how small towns can be small minded—in some cases viciously judgmental and oppressively provincial. Ultimately, Pinsky examines the uneasy regard that creative talents like him often have toward the small towns that either nurtured or thwarted their artistic impulses.

Of living in a small town, Sherwood Anderson once wrote that "the sensation is one never to be forgotten. On all sides are ghosts, not of the dead, but of living people." Passionate, lyrical, and intensely moving, Thousands of Broadways is a rich exploration of this crucial theme in American literature by one of its most distinguished figures.

... Read more

5. The Life of David (Jewish Encounters)
by Robert Pinsky
Paperback: 240 Pages (2008-08-26)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$4.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805211535
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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Poet, warrior, and king, David has loomed large in myth and legend through the centuries, and he continues to haunt our collective imagination, his flaws and inconsistencies making him the most approachable of biblical heroes. Robert Pinsky, former poet laureate of the United States, plumbs the depths of David’s life: his triumphs and his failures, his charm and his cruelty, his divine destiny and his human humiliations. Drawing on the biblical chronicle of David’s life as well as on the later commentaries and the Psalms——traditionally considered to be David’s own words——Pinsky teases apart the many strands of David’s story and reweaves them into a glorious narrative.

Under the clarifying and captivating light of Pinsky’s erudition and imagination, and his mastery of image and expression, King David——both the man and the idea of the man——is brought brilliantly to life.

From the Hardcover edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

1-0 out of 5 stars The life of David
I thought this book was written in poor taste and I don't know where the author got his information.I know he definitely did not receive it from the Bible.He twisted some of the details of David's life around.Some people should just never write about certain topics.I would never recommend this book to anyone.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not for the Lazy of Mind
A challenge to digest perhaps for the intellectual lazy,but well worth the effort. As some one already summed " About a Poet,For a Poet,By a Poet" In short Mr. Pinsky, Bravo!

4-0 out of 5 stars A on Content/ C on Presentation
All you could ever want to know about David and a little more...Fascinating insight and information such as the fact that David may have been/probably was related to Goliath...

It's a shame it couldn't have been presented in a more readable style. That diminishes the book, but doesn't offset the value of reading the book to learn more about David, one of the Bible's most intriguing, most human characters.

Still, the best discripton of David comes from the Psalms, one not written by him: "He ruled with integrity of heart..."

Doesn't say he was a perfect person or that he was anything but human...but he had "integrity of heart..." That says a lot about David's life condition and, we hope, ours, too.

2-0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing
This book was very disappointing.It was written in a stream of consciousness style with bizarre attempts to integrate modern analogies and to compare David to modern figures from unrelated fields.I had the feeling that it was written in one weekend without the scholarly research for which I would have hoped.

5-0 out of 5 stars A reading of the life of David
This is in a way a surprising work. One would have expected a poet like Pinsky to have somehow concentrated on the work which was the Jewish Tradition attributes to King David, the work which is arguably the greatest body of religious poetry ever written, Tehiilim( Psalms). Instead Pinsky retells the whole story of David chronlogically.He retells the story and often artfully reinterprets it .Hedoes this by making wide-ranging and often telling literary comparisons. In the course of this he rejects a basic apologetic line which sees David only as king of virtue, and ancestor of the Messiah to come. He tries instead to see David whole in all his flawed greatness.
In the course of reading this work I learned much about David some of which I should have known about before. I believe that the great share of readers will find much to learn here not only about David, but about the Biblical world of which he is a part.
Nonetheless there are essential perhaps most essential elements in the life of David , that I believe are not fully treated here. Above all David's relation to G-d , a relation so intensely and powerfully given in Tehillim is not really studied here.

... Read more

6. Americans' Favorite Poems
Hardcover: 352 Pages (1999-11-01)
list price: US$27.50 -- used & new: US$12.18
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393048209
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
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Product Description
This anthology embodies Robert Pinsky's commitment to discover America's beloved poems, his special undertaking as Poet Laureate of the United States.The selections in this anthology were chosen from the personal letters of thousands of Americans who responded to Robert Pinsky's invitation to write to him about their favorite poems. Some poems are memories treasured in the mind since childhood; some crystallize the passion of love or recall the trail of loss and sorrow. The poems and poets in this anthology--from Sappho to Lorca, from Shakespeare and Chaucer to Gwendolyn Brooks, Louise Glck, and Allen Ginsberg--are poems to be read aloud and memorized, poems to be celebrated as part of our nation's cultural inheritance. Accompanying the poems are comments by people who speak not as professional critics but as passionate readers of various ages, professions and regions. This anthology, in a manner unlike any other, discloses the rich and vigorous presence of poetry in American life at the millennium and provides a portrait of the United States through the lens of poetry. The Favorite Poem Project is an official part of the Bicentennial Celebration of the Library of Congress and the White House Millennium Council.Amazon.com Review
Americans' Favorite Poems offers keen proof that poetry doesmake something happen, that it can give strength and perspective, inspireand alter lives, and comfort and surprise. How did this grassroots goldenanthology come about? When Robert Pinsky was named U.S. poet laureate in1997, he hoped to persuade 100 Americans to recite and discuss theirfavorite works. Even he may have been surprised when thousands were movedto contribute and commune. From the wave of responses, Pinsky has selected200 poems, each preceded by one or more testimonials. Make no mistake: thiscollection, ranging in alphabetical order from Ammons to Zagajewski, wouldbe a keeper without any commentary whatsoever. But Pinsky's volume againand again makes clear that for real readers Matthew Arnold is far fromoutmoded, that people still thrill to Robert Browning, and that LewisCarroll's "Jabberwocky" is--at least for one Hollywood type--a reflectionof reality rather than sublime whimsy. And how about John Donne's "TheFlea"? A precocious Arizona 17-year-old deems it not a thorny metaphysicalwork but "the best argument for sex I've ever heard."

Fans will encounter their favorites, from Anna Akhmatova to Langston Hughesto W.B. Yeats, and read them anew in the light of people's passionatecomments. But there are also discoveries to be made. A New Mexicantreasures "Who Says Words with My Mouth" by the 13th-century Persian poetJalal Al-Din Rumi: "I can't live without it and I can die with it." Andthis reader is grateful to one New Yorker for offering up Nazim Hikmet's"Things I Didn't Know I Loved." Twenty-four-year-old Chad Menville writes:"I identify with this poem about imprisonment, censorship, longing, andbelief in oneself more than with any other poem I have read. This poemneeds to be heard! Please."

Americans' Favorite Poems really is a national portrait: those whotook up Pinsky's challenge range from teachers to prisoners, teenagers tononagenarians. There are even a few artists. Violinist and conundrummerchant Laurie Anderson sent a long, complex paragraph detailing howGeorge Herbert inspired her to create a talking table: "It compressed thesound and drove it up steel rods so that when you sat with your elbows onthe table and your hands to your ears, it was like wearing a pair ofpowerful headphones." And when it comes to A.E. Housman, the writer WilliamMaxwell opted for simplicity with the sentence fragment: "Because I cannotread it without shuddering with pleasure." That same phrase can be appliedto the entire volume. Robert Pinsky's vision is inspiring on every level,proof of his belief in poetry--and people. --Kerry Fried ... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars Something for everyone in poetry!
This is a great sampler of all the wonderful poets of all times and represents all the different types of poetry.It is a journey into the past as well as the present.What a pleasure to read and share with others.

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely lovely

I personally prefer poem anthologies where the poetry is from a mix of poets, not just a collection of one poet's work.Americans' Favorite Poems will give you some very famous favorites, and also might surprise you with the works of lesser known (but still wonderful) writers.

What I also loved about this treasure of a book was the comments.Robert Pinsky compiled the poems that people from around the US sent him and printed their comments as to why each poem was their favorite.Reading the comments of all these people - firefighters, students, forest rangers, doctors, homemakers, basically people from all walks of life - is often very moving, entertaining, or surprising (you'll see some of your best loved poems from new and delightful angles).You get a feel for why people love poems as they explain that love, that attachment to a particular poem, in their own words.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Americans' Favorite Poems" Is My Favorite Poetry Anthology!
Robert Pinsky, the 39th Poet Laureate of the United States, founded the Favorite Poem Project. Since its inception, the Project has been dedicated to celebrating, documenting and promoting poetry's role in Americans' lives. During a one-year open call for submissions, 18,000 Americans wrote to the project volunteering to share their favorite poems - Americans from ages 5 to 97, from every state, of diverse occupations, education and backgrounds. The Project's first anthology, "Americans' Favorite Poems," consists of 200 of the submitted poems, along with readers' comments about their attachments to the poems. The selections are by poets from all over the world, poems written centuries ago alongside contemporary poems, poignantly sad poetry, as well as spiritually uplifting works, and humorous poems. Many are translations.

I found so many of my own favorites in this extraordinary collection. I was also introduced to many wonderful new poems, I might never have read. And some of the comments from the folks who submitted the poems, are as moving as the poetry itself. The book emphasizes the pure joy of reading poetry. And poetry appreciation is alive and well in America!

There is Anna Akhmatova's "The Sentence," submitted by a woman from Georgia who remembers her brother "who returned from Vietnam, a broken man of 21," when reading this poem; and Margaret Atwood's "Variation On The Word Sleep," "the most beautiful love poem I have ever read," writes a woman from Queens, NY; Lewis Carroll's "Jaberwocky" is included, with the comment, "Where else can you find a tale of danger, adventure, triumph, and jubilation - all so utterly wrapped in nonsense?" There are wonders printed here, by Ranier Marie Rilke, Alexander Pope, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sylvia Plath, William Shakespeare, Wallace Stevens, Dylan Thomas and Allan Ginsberg...and so many more. It must have been a difficult task, indeed, to select 200 poems from so many worthy submissions.

I recommend this anthology to poetry lovers everywhere, and also to those who do not care for poetry. This collection may change your mind.

5-0 out of 5 stars Representative of Americans' taste in poetry?
I wonder. I doubt it since Maya Angelou isn't included. She's one of the most visible poets in America today and very much loved. It's not that she's little known because she was America's Poet Laureate a few years ago -- so why leave her out? And why only one poem by William Stafford? Also, clearly one of the universal favorites of Robert Frost's is "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" and it's not here, either. (That one shows up in almost any discussion of poetry.)And, only one poem by Robert Penn Warren, another former USA Poet Laureate?

I'm also suspicious of a "project" that doesn't seem to have been announced widely before it began -- it can't be representative of ALL Americans since all Americans obviously didn't know about it.

All that said, it's a great collection. Through it I met several new poets (new to me)and I certainly enjoyed the ones I was already familiar with. It made me curious, too, about just what the American taste in poetry truly would be. I suspect it would include Ogden Nash and Edgar Allen Poe.

No. I don't think it's representative of the poetic taste of the American public and I don't think it should claim to be so, but I do think it's a great overview of popular poets and a superb collection of poems.

5-0 out of 5 stars Illustrates What Poetry is Really About
Americans' Favorite Poems is an amazing book. It is the result of the "favorite poem project" held across the nation. The poems in the collection are real Americans' favorites along with their own comments on why they chose that poem as their favorite. The compilation is great for the obvious. The poems selected come from everywhere (many different cultures and different styles of poetry are present), and they are outstanding. The thing that sets Americans' Favorite Poems apart from other collections is the commentary from regular people. The comments are at turns hilarious and moving. They are always profound. They show the real greatness of good poetry: it has the ability to relate to a person's life experiences and really touch that person.

I must say that my favorite selection in the book was "I May, I Might, I Must" by Marianne Moore mainly because of the reason behind its selection. The only complaint (it isn't much of one) I have about the book is that my favorite "I Thank You God for Most This Amazing" by ee cummings didn't make it, but hopefully, there will someday be a Americans' Favorite Poems Volume II, and it will. ... Read more

7. The Inferno of Dante: A New Verse Translation, Bilingual Edition
by Dante
Hardcover: 360 Pages (1994-12-31)
list price: US$40.00 -- used & new: US$39.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374176744
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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This widely praised version of Dante's masterpiece, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award of the Academy of American Poets, is more idiomatic and approachable than its many predecessors. Former U.S. Poet Laureate Pinsky employs slant rhyme and near rhyme to preserve Dante's terza rima form without distorting the flow of English idiom. The result is a clear and vigorous translation that is also unique, student-friendly, and faithful to the original: "A brilliant success," as Bernard Knox wrote in The New York Review of Books.
Amazon.com Review
The one quality that all classic works of literature share is their timelessness. Shakespeare still plays in Peoria 400 years after his death because the stories he dramatized resonate in modern readers' hearts and minds; methods of warfare have changed quite a bit since the Trojan War described by Homer in his Iliad, but the passions and conflicts that shaped such warriors as Achilles, Agamemnon, Patroclus, and Odysseus still find their counterparts today on battlefields from Bosnia to Afghanistan. Likewise, a little travel guide to hell written by the Florentine poet Dante Alighieri in the 13th century remains in print at the end of the 20th century, and it continues to speak to new generations of readers. There have been countless translations of the Inferno, but this one by poet Robert Pinsky is both eloquent and tailored to our times.

Yes, this is an epic poem, but don't let that put you off. An excellent introduction provides context for the work, while detailed notes on each canto are a virtual who's who of 13th-century Italian politics, culture, and literature. Best of all, Pinsky's brilliant translation communicates the horror, despair, and terror of hell with such immediacy, you can almost smell the sulfur and feel the heat from the rain of fire as Dante--led by his faithful guide Virgil--descends lower and lower into the pit. Dante's journey through Satan's kingdom must rate as one of the great fictional travel tales of all time, and Pinsky does it great justice. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (51)

5-0 out of 5 stars The darkest thing I have ever read
A guided tour through hell written in the form of a poem? An idea that good only comes once in a thousand years.

2-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant work but I didn't enjoy it
As a literature minor, I know that I'm supposed to take great joy in dissecting and analyzing a great work of literature such as The Inferno, but I didn't really enjoy this book all that much.

I found way too much of the storyline to be repetitive and drawn out for two long. The first half or so of the story is basically traveling from one circle of Hell to another, finding out what the sin and the punishment for the sin in that area is, meeting and talking with one or two of the sinners and relating what they did in their lives to the reason that they are here. Dante reacts to their trials either sympathetically or feeling that they deserve what they got mainly based on who they are (if they happen to be somebody from his actual life who treated him badly or had a hand in his expulsion from his home, he feels pretty justified in thinking that they are getting what they deserve.)

I don't want to take away from the greatness of this piece of literature. The rhyming scheme and the contrapasso (matching up the punishments so that they fit the crime) that Dante has developed are pure genius and the poem itself is a great accomplishment. My rating is based entirely upon my personal enjoyment (or lack there of) of the work.

5-0 out of 5 stars As Good as it Gets...
When I came across Mr. Pinsky's translation over a decade ago, I was thrilled and impressed.I loved sitting with the beautiful prose in Italian and English.When I heard my daughter was taking a course in Italian on Dante's Inferno at Syracuse (ahhh to be in college again), I sent her the book.Both my daughter and her professor love this translation.The professor has used the text in her class before.A great buy in hardcover...even better in paperback.A great enhancement would be a version for my new kindle2!

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent for the Rookie
Perhaps you are reading these reviews because, let us be honest, you are a bit intimidated to read a book of this nature.Written over seven centuries ago, many, perhaps even most, of the references are today obscure.Yes, the scholars can read Dante, but what of you, who just wants something deeper, who recognizes that you should fill your head with something a bit more permanent than the latest best seller?You still want something accessible and understandable.To you I say...you should plunge ahead and read THE INFERNO OF DANTE.It is fantastic.

I am no expert on the time period reflected in THE INFERNO.And I remember nothing about any poetry class I ever took.I cannot even say whether Pinsky did a good job of translating Dante into English.I can only comment on the pages that are in front of me, and they are extremely enjoyable.Dante himself sought to make THE INFERNO accessible to the masses.He wrote it in Italian rather than Latin for exactly that reason and this translation remains true to that end.

As most are aware, THE INFERNO takes us through the circles of Hell, deeper and deeper into the abyss.THE INFERNO's descriptions are excellent, grabbing the reader's attention as the sins become more and more serious the deeper we go, with the eternal punishments meted out becoming more and more severe.Although many references are now obscure, the notes for the book provide an excellent context that allows one to follow along.I personally was concerned that I would be spending too much time with the endnotes to really enjoy the text.But the two really complement each other very well, making the book that much more enjoyable.

We learn a great deal along the way.In limbo, for instance, Dante encounters many souls worthy of salvation, but which are doomed to limbo, as they were born before Christ provided that salvation to man.Interestingly, although most Muslims are later found deeper in hell with the heretics, several notable Muslims are here, evidencing at least a grudging appreciation on the part of the deeply Chritian Dante for the damned of a non-Christian religion.

Following that same theme, the founder of Islam himself, Mohammed, is further down still than the heretics.Following the belief that Mohammed was a fallen Catholic cardinal, he is with the schismatics, who broke from the one true church to lead others onto a false path.Eternally split open from head to tailbone only to heal up for another round of the same, his torture perfectly symbolizes his sin.

Of course, I use the above merely as examples.THE INFERNO is rife with others, each as readable as they are gruesome.Contrary to my own initial concerns, I found THE INFERNO OF DANTE very much worth the time and I recommend it without hesitation.

3-0 out of 5 stars not bad...not bad.. I wonder if Dante is with Beatrice now...
Even though the Inferno is not intended to be an analysis of the philosophy of sins, but rather an implementation of Christian doctrines, Dante did not miss the opportunity to enhance his glory at the expense of his sinner rivals. A sinner's punishment was proportional to their sin, but the degree of evil associated with each sin was defined by Dante's own moral system.It was interesting to note that he considered murder less evil than fraud. Another interesting point was that it was necessary for Dante and Virgil to stop at the river of forgetfulness before getting out of Hell.

The intention of the journey was in one way or another to find Beatrice, the love that Dante lost early on earth and was hoping to meet in heaven. Most likely, the Divine Comedy wouldn't have seen the light of day if Dante had married Beatrice.

Nice poem, Dante's ego gets out of control at some points, but that can be forgiven, given the artistic work he created.

... Read more

8. First Things to Hand: Poems (Quarternote Chapbook Series)
by Robert Pinsky
Paperback: 24 Pages (2006-05-01)
list price: US$9.95 -- used & new: US$4.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1932511342
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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“Pinsky has . . . the magician's dazzling quickness fused with subtle intelligence, a taste for tasks and assignments to which he devises ingenious solutions.”—Louise Glück

In these new poems the humble objects of everyday life—door, photograph, newspaper, pen, book—become artifacts pointing to the very center of human difference.

Robert Pinsky’s books include The Want Bone, The Figured Wheel: Collected Poems 1966-1996, and Jersey Rain. Among his awards are the William Carlos Williams Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. From 1997 to 2000 he was the US Poet Laureate. He currently teaches at Boston University.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A free-verse poetry chapbook by teacher and prizewinning poet Robert Pinsky
First Things to Hand is a free-verse poetry chapbook by teacher and prizewinning poet Robert Pinsky, contemplating the most elementary of ordinary items yet revealing the distinctions each object sheds upon the multifaceted human experience. Quickly absorbed yet promoting extended contemplation, First Things to Hand reveals the uniqueness within the mundane. "Photograph": Light-inscribed / Likeness // Vulnerable to light, / To the oils of the hand. // The paper sensitive / The dyes ephemeral // The very medium / A trace of absences. // Speed of the years / Speed of the shutter. // The child's father / Crouches level to her // With the camera and so / She crouches too. // Agile the dancer. / Little room // Of the camera, wide / Gaze of exposure- // Shiva the maker / Shiva the destroyer: // The flash of your hammer / Fashions the shelter.
... Read more

9. The Inferno of Dante : A New Verse Translation
by Robert (translator) Dante Alighieri; Pinsky
 Paperback: Pages (1995)
-- used & new: US$69.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B001AHE2DI
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Great book, but don't be fooled by the price
First things first.I bought this book on campus during my days in college.This book is listed by the publisher as $10.00, not $50.00.Unless the pages and the cover are lined with gold, I would bargain for the actual price.


Anyway, I bought this earlier version because Pinsky is one of the literary greats, being a former U.S. Poet Laureate.I also never knew him to be an Italian translator (He really does the translation.It says so in the book.).Arnaldo Mondadori provides Pinsky with the original manuscript.They work so well and so hard to put this great book together.

If one is familiar with the work, then they understand the story that interlaces with it.It is one thing to read it in English, but it is much more special and enticing when one reads it in comparison to its original language. The Italian manuscript is much more beautiful, especially when it is written aloud.You get a very good grasp of the sound behind the poetry.

Inferno is written in a poetic style that barely compares to modern poetry, where end rhymes tend to be frowned upon.The whole work is an epic poem designed in terza rima form, as 3-line stanzas.The first and third line in the stanza rhyme together.The middle line carries into the next stanza and continues on, and the cycle repeats itself.

For example, A-B-A, B-C-B, C-D-C, ... etc.The canto (poetic chapter) in this literary opus ends with a one line stanza, rhyming with the second line from the last stanza.

If you are a student of poetry (or a casual reader of it), and one wants to know what old-school formalist poetry is like, then one must have this edition on your book rack.Compare this style of poetry to other poetic forms, like sonnets from Petrarch and Shakespeare.Contrast these styles to free-verse, like Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass or works by Maya Angelou, and you will get a better understanding and appreciation for such diversities in poetry.

... Read more

10. Gulf Music: Poems
by Robert Pinsky
Hardcover: 96 Pages (2007-10-16)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$0.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374167494
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Dollars, dolors. Callings and contrivances. King Zulu. Comus.
Sephardic ju-ju and verses. Voodoo mojo, Special Forces.

Henry formed a group named Professor Longhair and his
Shuffling Hungarians. After so much renunciation

And invention, is this the image of the promised end?
All music haunted by all the music of the dead forever.

Becky haunted forever by Pearl the daughter she abandoned
For love, O try my tra-la-la, ma la belle, mah walla-woe.

Â--from Â"Gulf MusicÂ"

An improvised, even desperate music, yearning toward knowledge across a gulf, informs Robert Pinsky's first book of poetry since Jersey Rain (2000).

On the large scale of war or the personal scale of family history, in the movements of people and cultures across oceans or between eras, these poems discover connections between things seemingly disparate.

Gulf Music is perhaps the most ambitious, politically impassioned, and inventive book by this major American poet.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Poems for Other Voices
Robert Pinsky has one of the great poetic voices, and if you read his earlier work, like _Sadness and Happiness_, the pleasure of that voice is immediate, and lasting. This book isn't in that voice, though; it's like a long vertical stack of other voices, discovered meanings, sounds that refused to settle in or lose their strangeness. It's beautiful, and unexpected.

5-0 out of 5 stars Music to my ears
Robert Pinsky is well known to many, having been Poet Laureate, written a book review column, appeared on the Newshour, and led the Favorite Poem Project. But how many read his poetry? In Gulf Music, Pinsky shows us what a strong poet he truly is, with a great range and all kinds of strategies for making a poem interest and delight his reader and listening audience. Truth in advertising: I have myself been a participant in Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project, one of the really great services done for poetry in our daily life that I can think of.

But look at these poems, read them out loud and listen to their melody. You can take the political poems. They do put events of our lives in perspective, and they do it well. But look at First Things to Hand--a series of poems about ordinary objects that prove anything but ordinary--a glass, a book, a jar of pens, a door--really proving what poetry and Pinsky can do. By far my favorite, found among the few translations at the end of Gulf Music (more truth in advertising: I love Latin poetry and even wrote a poem about the Latin language) is The Wave, Pinsky's translation of Virgil, Georgics III:237-244:

A breast-shaped curve of wave begins to whiten
And rise above the surface, the rolling on
Gathers and gathers until it reaches land
Huge as a mountain and crashes among the rocks

Was Virgil a contemporary poet? This is a really deft treatment and brings this little gem from the Georgics (translations of which are usually plodding and dull) up to date. This is NOT the stuff of Latin class, but something we can understand and relate to emotionally.

You might want to take a look at my earlier review of Pinsky's
Democracy, Culture and the Voice of Poetry (The University Center for Human Values Series), where he makes a great statement about the place of poetry in our national life. But in the midst of all Pinsky's commentary and his great public argument about poetry--the 21st Century equivalent of Sidney's Defense--let's not forget what matters most: the truly fine poetry that Pinsky is creating.

5-0 out of 5 stars perhaps his best
Pinsky is an amazing poet and this is a strong collection. Some of the poems were published in a chap book recently which I had already purchased awhile back. Still, the rest of the poems were so enjoyable I had to pick this up, too. If you like contemporary poetry (yeah, what does that mean?), especially with a political flavor, this may be just what you are looking for. ... Read more

11. Sadness and Happiness
by Robert Pinsky
Paperback: 74 Pages (1975-12-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$2.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0691013225
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"Remarkable. . . . What [these poems] are attempting is important: nothing less than the recovery for language of a whole domain of mute and familiar experience."--Hugh Kenner, ^IThe Los Angeles Times Book Review^N"It is refreshing to find a poet who is intellectually interesting and technically first-rate. Robert Pinsky belongs to that rarest category of talents, a poet- critic."--Robert Lowell"The pleasures of Pinsky . . . are the unfashionable, or at least the unfamiliar, ones of sanity, the cool entertainment of alternatives, and the conviction . . . that speech . . . is not only interesting but shares with both lyric and nonsense a certainty of resonance. . . ."--Richard Howard, ^IPoetry^N ... Read more

12. Poems to Read: A New Favorite Poem Project Anthology
Hardcover: 416 Pages (2002-06-17)
list price: US$27.95 -- used & new: US$9.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393010740
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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A unique anthology by the editors of the bestseller Americans' Favorite Poems. Poems to Read is a welcoming avenue into poetry for readers new to poetry, including high school and college students. It is also meant to be a fresh, valuable collection for readers already devoted to the art. This anthology concentrates on the actual pleasures of reading poems: hearing the poem in your voice, bringing it to other people, musing about it, taking excitement or comfort from it, wandering with it or—as in the Keats letter quoted in the Introduction—having it as a starting post. Many of these 200 poems are accompanied by comments from readers of various ages, regions, and backgrounds who participated in the Favorite Poem Project. Included are poems by John Donne, Walt Whitman, William Butler Yeats, Langston Hughes, Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks, Seamus Heaney, Allen Ginsberg, and Louise Glück, to name a few. The editors offer their own comments on some of the poems, which are arranged in thematic chapters. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful poems
I checked this anthology out at the library and decided I needed my own copy.I had been out of practice at reading good poetry and really loved so many of the poems in this book.It is a good middle ground for people who enjoy good poetry but are sometimes overwhelmed by denser, more complicated poems.I would recommend "Good Poems" for the starter and "An Invitation to Poetry" for the more advanced reader.

5-0 out of 5 stars A most noteworthy collection
Even more than the many fine poems cited in this wonderful anthology, I enjoyed the eloquent responses by everyday Americans as to why they responded in certain ways to their favorite poems.These stories are almost as moving as the actual poems and there are dozens of terrific poems, both the familiar and the unexpectedly novel.If you only read the comments, you'd be a richer person, but to read the comments along with the poems, now that's an experience.If this book were required in English classes around the country, maybe kids wouldn't resent poetry units so much!

5-0 out of 5 stars "Bring me the sunflower crazy with the light..."
I am absolutely blown away by the quality of this anthology! Absolutely blown away. Organized by the people behind the Favorite Poem Project ... this beautiful book strikes the perfect poetic balance; the poems here have depth and meaning, but they are never impenetrable and are always a joy to read aloud.

The mainstays are all here: Shakespeare, Dickinson, Whitman, Keats, Frost, etc., but the book often presents their lesser-known works (such as a terrific Langston Hughes piece called "Life is Fine" that I'd somehow missed). There are also more obscure poets; May Swenson, Derek Walcott, and many international writers. But what makes this book truly unique is the commentary printed above most of the poems sent in by people of all ages and professions.

Students, teachers, doctors, writers; they talk about their favorite poems with great love and a sense of awe. Their passion is infectious. I plan to buy this book, but instead of sitting on my bookshelf like my other poetry books it will go in my backpack to be with me wherever I go, for anytime I need a breath of fresh air. Highly recommended.
GRADE: A ... Read more

13. Jersey Rain: Poems
by Robert Pinsky
Paperback: 64 Pages (2001-04-16)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$0.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374527725
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Cathartic, refreshing new work by the American favorite

Tiptoe on the globe. Gazing
nowhere in particular, the slender
Thunderer surrounded by thunder,

Fire zigzag in his grasp, labeled "Spirit
Of Communication"---unhistorical,
Pure, the merciless messenger.

--from "A Phonebook Cover Hermes of the Nineteen-forties"

Innovative, engaging poems from a leading American poet.

Stone wheel that sharpens the blade that mows the grain,Wheel of the sunflower turning, wheel that turnsThe spiral press that squeezes the oil expressedFrom shale or olives. Particles that turn mudOn the potter's wheel that spins to form the vesselThat holds the oil that drips to cool the blade.--from "Biography"Jersey Rain takes up a central American subject: the emotional power of inventions, devices, and homemade imaginings -- from the alphabet and the lyre through the steel drum and piano to the record player, digital computer, and television. Formally innovative and highly readable poems like "ABC," "Ode to Meaning," "To Television," and "The Green Piano" meditate a life guided by the quick, artful tinkerer-god Hermes: deity of music and deception, escort of the dead, inventor of instruments, brilliant messenger, and trickster of heaven.

Tiptoe on the globe.
nowhere in particular, the slender
Thunderer surrounded by thunder,

Fire zigzag in his grasp, labeled "Spirit
Of Communication"---unhistorical,
Pure, the merciless messenger.

--from "A Phonebook Cover Hermes of the Nineteen-forties"

Jersey Rain -- at once complex and aboveboard -- marks a new, strong, lyrical stage of Robert Pinsky's work. Assembled here are poems -- some of the finest of his career -- that together compose a sweeping and embattled meditation on the themes of a life guided by Hermes: deity of music and deception, escort of the dead, inventor of instruments, brilliant messenger and trickster of heaven.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

4-0 out of 5 stars There's a hidden depth here, at least in most of the poems
When I received "Jersey Rain" as a gift last year, I initially read it through once and put it down for a few months, deciding that Pinsky (more so even than Seamus Heaney or Derek Walcott) was a poet more concerned about pretentious mythological name-dropping than about true depth.I have since decided that my judgment was too harsh, and I've gone back and re-read some of the poems many times.I think "Samurai Song" stands as the strongest poem in here (not coincidentally, it makes no references to Greek mythology...) and is the one that I read most often.The other poems I especially enjoy are "The Knight's Prayer," "Victrola," "Steel Drum Variations," "Biography," "Song," "Ode to Meaning," "The Haunted Ruin" and "Vessel."Pinsky is able to achieve profundity in the most surprising ways, and is even able to poke fun at himself and his craft (witness "Ode to Meaning").

Contrary to some other reviewers, I find that "ABC," while it's a clever and fun experiment, fails in the last line ("X = your zenith"What the hell does that mean?).Nevertheless, for those looking for some breathtaking poetry with a good balance between pretension (which, as I've come to realize, is not always a bad thing), lyricism and depth, "Jersey Rain" is a decent bet.

2-0 out of 5 stars Hmmmmm.....
A few good, solid poems here. Is it just me, however, or does anyone else out there feel the emperor is wearing increasingly fewer clothes? The technical control is masterful, yes, but I miss the greater vision of AN EXPLANATION OF AMERICA and Pinsky's other earlier works.

4-0 out of 5 stars Pinsky's Vision
In what turns out to be quite an interesting collection of Poems, Robert Pinsky uses his stripped down style to convey his messages clearly, but with a sense of symbolism.In each writing, the point is introduced pretty early in the reading, and then expounded upon in ways that few poets I have encountered are able to.In addition, the length of each one is nearly perfect, keeping the reader's attention while still expressing exactly what Pinsky wants to say.I certainly recommend this book to anyone who has read poetry before and is interested in a slight change of pace.

4-0 out of 5 stars "Sweet Time Unafflicted"
First got cued to this book by Shawn Penn who took an extensive amount of time on Charlie Rose to explain the significance of "Sweet Time Unafflicted" from Pinsky's ABC in his own life. It is a simple, accesible beauty that Pinksy strives for and delivers, many of his poems focusing on contemporary themes and keeping their lexicon to the modern. As in ABC Pinsky builds several stanzas throughout the book on 26 word strings in alphabetical order. If as a reader you are interested in expanding your present interests into contemporary poetry the work ofthis Poet Laureate may be a sublimely fufilling place to begin.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hey, man--I'm from Jersey too
A thin volume, full of jewles--dark-colored jewles, like rubies and emeralds, lit by candlelight inside a church.The secret to reading a Pinsky poem is to read it very slowly, out loud, annunciating each syllableas though it were its own line: you will realize that the slimness of thisbook is misleading.Pinsky seems to construct each of his poems out ofperfect sound, so carefully that each line--free verse orotherwise--resonates with meaning and memorability, as anyone who has readTHE FIGURED WHEEL will probably already know.A worthy addition toPinsky's already rich body of work.I'm grateful to have read it. ... Read more

14. I'll Tell What I Saw: Select Translations and Illustrations from the Divine Comedy
by Michael Mazur
Paperback: 64 Pages (2009-11-01)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$4.99
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Asin: 1932511776
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"Michael Mazur's approach to the Inferno gave me inspiration and guidance in understanding Dante. The monotypes, nourished by the artist's intense engagement with the poetry, are themselves acts of translation, embodying vital principles."—Robert Pinsky, from the preface

A unique collection that revisits Dante's classic with translations by former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky and full-color artwork by internationally renowned artist Michael Mazur. This rare and stunning collaboration is sure to be sought by both collectors and readers alike.

... Read more

15. The Situation of Poetry
by Robert Pinsky
Paperback: 200 Pages (1978-10-01)
list price: US$23.95 -- used & new: US$4.75
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Asin: 0691013527
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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"A first-rate piece of work. I can't imagine anyone capable of reading this book and not learning from it."--Hugh Kenner ... Read more

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5-0 out of 5 stars Neat piece!
Robert Pinsky gave our commencement speech at Stanford in 1999. Captivated by his wit and eloquence I got a copy of this book but promptly misplaced it in a move. Only recently did I have a chance to read it and how satisfying was the experience! Not only did Pinsky help me see some old favorites, such as John Keat's "Ode to a Nightingale", from a distinctively fresh perspective, he also introduced me to other unfamiliar poets whose work I subsequently had the pleasure of reading further. The essays both serve as a comprehensive general survey and contain in-depth analyses of some key pieces. Its style is crisp yet smooth, its language is poetic in its own charm, and the insights are sharp from both literature perspectives and philosophical angles. Great midnight read when "senses abandon their defenses" -- an intellectually stimulating experience that I would highly recommend. ... Read more

16. Democracy, Culture and the Voice of Poetry (University Center for Human Values Series)
by Robert Pinsky
Paperback: 112 Pages (2005-02-14)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$4.40
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Asin: 0691122636
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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The place of poetry in modern democracy is no place, according to conventional wisdom. The poet, we hear, is a casualty of mass entertainment and prosaic public culture, banished to the artistic sidelines to compose variations on insipid themes for a dwindling audience. Robert Pinsky, however, argues that this gloomy diagnosis is as wrongheaded as it is familiar. Pinsky, whose remarkable career as a poet itself undermines the view, writes that to portray poetry and democracy as enemies is to radically misconstrue both. The voice of poetry, he shows, resonates with profound themes at the very heart of democratic culture.

There is no one in America better to write on this topic. One of the country's most accomplished poets, Robert Pinsky served an unprecedented two terms as America's Poet Laureate (1997-2000) and led the immensely popular multimedia Favorite Poem Project, which invited Americans to submit and read aloud their favorite poems. Pinsky draws on his experiences and on characteristically sharp and elegant observations of individual poems to argue that expecting poetry to compete with show business is to mistake its greatest democratic strength--its intimate, human scale--as a weakness.

As an expression of individual voice, a poem implicitly allies itself with ideas about individual dignity that are democracy's bedrock, far more than is mass participation. Yet poems also summon up communal life.. Even the most inward-looking work imagines a reader. And in their rhythms and cadences poems carry in their very bones the illusion and dynamic of call and response. Poetry, Pinsky writes, cannot help but mediate between the inner consciousness of the individual reader and the outer world of other people. As part of the entertainment industry, he concludes, poetry will always be small and overlooked. As an art--and one that is inescapably democratic--it is massive and fundamental. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars A century or two without poetry?
In this elegant, clear and concise essay Pinsky explains why modern poetry is generally ignored in America;as a poet, he faults society instead of the poets.

The poetry he praises is a "peculiar blend of ballad and tragedy, meditation and gossip" which resists "any anticipation to make American poetry something that goes down easily."He praises 'Eros Turannos' by Edwin Robinson, a 1911 poem describing the empty feelings of a woman in a bleak marriage;he condemns 'Chicago' by Carl Sandburg in 1916 which fails "to equal 'Eros Turannos' in emotion, in formal penetration or invention."

Presumably, on this basis, a man can know and express the innermost feelings of a woman who knows how "all her doubts of what he says/Are dimmed with what she knows of days --/".Yet, Sandburg is deemed incapable of expressing the dynamism of Chicago which is still "Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher ...."

If you agree poetry is articulate tragedy in a few words, you'll love this essay which demolishes everything but sorrow, despair and grief.Pinsky is an astute thinker, scholar and writer who illustrates his theme with references from Alexis de Tocqueville to Rabindranath Tagore.

If you want reality, try Robert Service and 'The Cremation of Sam McGee' from 1907, or John Gillespie Magee Jr. and 'High Flight' from 1941, or Lt. Col. Robert McCrae and 'In Flanders Fields' from 1918.Most definitely read Carl Sandburg and 'Chicago' again or even for the first time.

Obviously, my opinion is an "equatorial opposite" to Pinsky;a contrast between a dynamic hot, sweaty, messy mirth to that of Pinsky's pure cold crystal clear gloom.If you share Pinsky's view, this book is great;if you don't and wonder why poetry is so vigorously unappreciated in America, it explains much.

Of far more serious concern, which remains sadly unanswered except to claim America today is rudely uncultured, what has been written within the past century to rival 'Chicago' or 'Eros Turannos'?As is said in Chicago of the beloved Cubs, "any team can have a bad century."

Perhaps any society can have a bad century without significant poetry.

5-0 out of 5 stars Important Statement about the place of poetry in America
Poetry is not aristocratic in America--but rather personal and cultural at the same time.Pinsky jumps right into the discussion of culture and the so called "culture wars," and shows us all the many ways in which our poetry is a public expression of deep knowing and the inner voice. His takeoff point is Alexis de Tocqueville's description of American life as lacking in poetic quality in Democracy in America.Americans, Tocqueville maintains, will focus not on the heroic actions of aristocratic poetry, but on the natural features of the landscape and the interior feelings, emotions and makeup of the individual person. Pinsky sees this observation as prescient of what our poetry eventually has turned out to be. He sees America's poetry as a poetry of shared memory--shared and socialized through the human voice.

The human voice of the poem as read aloud is the actual instrument, for Pinsky, of culture--making men and women social beings.This, of course, is the genius of Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project, which has generated two anthologies to date and a video archive of the social moments of America's poetic voices as brought to life by ordinary Americans.

He provides special insights into the "skewed quatrains and secular hymns" of Emily Dickinson (one of my favorite poets)andWalt Whitman's project (partly a failure and partly a success) to fashion himself into the persona of a great national bard.

This is one of the best descriptions of poetic "voice" that you will ever find. Pinsky himself has the credentials for it, given his own remarkable body of poems, his translations of Dante's Inferno and now his new book on David--perhaps one of the greatest models for all poetry.

If you write or read poetry, this is a book you will resonate with.

3-0 out of 5 stars yo, chek it
as a poet, critic, and as poet laureate, a literary activist, pinsky as bin a significant force in recent efforts to comprehend relationships betweun american poetry and culture. dis volume summarizes is efforts to "consida da voice of poetry [...] within da culture of american democracy, amid da tensions of pluralism." although marxists and post-structuralists will likely check da unquestioned umanism implicit in pinsky's ruk suspect, he nevertheless offers pragmatic ruks fa situatin poetry's cultural and political role in american society and fa understandin da social value of private art. he emphasizes ow da diverse characta of america as led to a "fantastic" experience of memory dat "exaggetares da anxieties of uniformity and memory" in a nevertheless positive role of resistance to da "apparently total successes" of colonitazion. poetry's function in da process of cultural memory borrows a bodily quality to da "solitary voice" and defends uman-scale perceptions and judgments from da levelin effects of mass-scale culture. fa pinsky, da "solitude of lyric [...] invokes a social presence." integral, is poetry's intrinsic vocality, creatin a force dat "origitanes within da reada" but "gestures outward" to "alert us to da presence of anotha or udders." thus poetry, though inherently personal, is nevertheless "far from solipsistic" in its invocation of audience. pinsky distinguishes dis outward-reaching interiority from more performative arts such as drama, tunes, and slam, and stresses it as poetry's source of endurin strengf. efforts to transform poetry into performance, from dis view, doom it to irrelevance coz of its inability to compete wiv da influence of da entertainment industry. as an essentially socially-based convention, poetry's formal qualities also play an outward-reaching role in its social praxis, but unlike da more apocalyptic proclatamions of formalists dig dana gioia, pinsky's calm advancement of a theory of form's function avoids reductively polarized (form versus free verse) polemics and thus supports a broada endorsement of da genre's social efficacy. although far from comprehensive, pinsky offers a teachable counterpoint to more dire political assessments from bof da right and left wings of da poetry wars.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Heat of Middle Water
Sober, judicious, temperate, suave, Pinsky considers poetry's place in our high-tech democracy with all the passion of a required civics course.Nary an insight will trouble anyone's sleep in NPR, MacNeill/Lehrer America, and that's a shame, because poetry at its best is a whole lot hotter than that.Pinsky's a deft explainer and he keeps his good-natured balance in the midst of a very fragmented field.But I think those qualities mitigate against the kind of fire we need to shake poetry loose from the warm academic middle, whose virtues and limitations Pinksy embodies in every line of his prose.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great short read
Short, punchy, and nicely designed. Pinsky doesn't waste words. If you want to read a modern manifesto in defence of poetry, this is it. It's easy to dump on Pinsky because he's in the public eye so much, but this at least shows he's there because he has a brain. And who can complain about a poet being a star? ... Read more

17. Five American Poets: Robert Hass, John Matthias, James McMichael, John Peck, Robert Pinsky
by John Matthias
Paperback: 176 Pages (1981-09)
list price: US$7.95
Isbn: 0856352594
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18. An Explanation of America (Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets)
by Robert Pinsky
Paperback: 80 Pages (1979-08-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$5.00
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Asin: 0691013608
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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4-0 out of 5 stars A search for identity that contains all seeds of generality
Pinsky sifts through images and myths from both outside and inside America, alternating between the conventional and the idiosyncratic, reaching into the past towards the future, testing the limits of eachframework. He always seems centered in the experiential but, almost always,works at arm's length. He really wants to encompass it all, and the scaleof his ambition adds dignity to his results. I love this poem, no less forits ambitiousness than its scrupulous balance.

Robert Pinsky taught myundergraduate course in Seventeenth Century English poetry. Even now, hiswriting speaks to me in the same even, deliberate tone that, in theclassroom, could be depended upon to launch into an explanation-reasoned,swift, feeling, comprehensive.

The last time we talked about poetry wasshortly after An Explanation of America was published, when coincidentallyhe was on sabbatical at UC-Berkeley and I was in graduate school there. Oneafternoon our paths crossed, as I was rushing east across the Berkeleycampus to my son's daycare. He said some readers found the poem too gloomy.I disagreed -but was too much in a hurry to set the record straight!

Theend of 1999 finds me with more time to write and think, but also lessoptimistic about America. As much as I admire the brilliance with which thelast line of the poem leaves America standing there as an undefended openquestion-"so large, and strangely broken, and unforeseen," it is in chaptertwo, Its Great Emptiness, where I find the vulnerability of Americanidentity most deeply challenged. Pinsky, citing Horace, revives a vision ofhuman freedom that I can no longer identify as belonging particularly toAmerica-any more than I might have considered it as Roman.

"When a manstoops to pluck at the coin some boys of Rome have soldered to the street,I think that just then he is no more free than any prisoner, or slave; itseems that someone who wants too much to get things is also someone whofears, and living in that fear cannot be free."

Ann Rutledge/Wellesley1976 rutlog@hotmail.com ... Read more

19. The Want Bone (American Poetry Series)
by Robert Pinsky
Paperback: 84 Pages (1991-10-01)
list price: US$13.99 -- used & new: US$0.01
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Asin: 088001251X
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The Want Bone, "It’s largely about making, which is also destroying. Civilization in all of its horror and ugliness and its beauty consists of, you know, it’s really all the work of Shiva, the Hindu god with the hammer who makes and breaks any artifact you look at."
-- Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky ... Read more

20. History of My Heart: Poems
by Robert Pinsky
Paperback: 64 Pages (1998-02)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$1.48
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Asin: 0374525307
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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History of My Heart, winner of the William Carlos Williams Prize, first appeared in 1984. In The New Republic, J.D. McClatchy called it "one of the best books of the past decade." It is Pinsky's third volume of poems--and an ideal introduction to the work of a vital and original contemporary American poet.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars skillful
Reading this is reading a master at work. Pinsky wields so much skill it's ridiculous. Reading the poems here is like listening to an intelligent, old man sitting in a chair somewhere in a field, giving his thoughts free rein, following them where they land. In my opinion, the poem "The Figured Wheel" is a lyrical, breath-taking masterpiece.

1-0 out of 5 stars we must feel bad that this wasour Poet Laureate
Pinsky is in love with being a poet, but his poems don't mean anything to the rest of us.This book is a perfect example of this.We are supposed to admire him, not read him, and I find it a shame that this lousy work got him a Luareateship.

5-0 out of 5 stars Strong, accessible work
Want to check out some poetry that won't blind you with its self-importance?Give Pinksy a whirl.He wasn't poet laureate for nothing, and this volume shows why: his work is everyday-ish, regular images told in regular language, but stacked in such a way that the power of the images play movies in your head with every turn of the page.The book gets off to a ripping start and calms down from there, but is no less compelling.

Like really good, quiet fireplace conversation. ... Read more

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