Poet and critic Robert Pinsky has advice for young poets: “Start keeping a daybook or a computer file called ‘Anthology.’ Every time you read something that you think is terrific or great, every time you read something you love…type it out, and you will have a kind of autobiography by example and you’ll have your definition of what you mean by poetry by example.”
Pinsky came to Iowa City in 2011 for UNESCO World Book & Copyright Day in 2011, and during his visit he sat down for this On the Fly interview. The former United States Poet Laureate and Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (1997-2000) discusses his preference for noisy environments for writing, the art and influence of comedian Sid Caesar, and his interest in the “spiritual force of resistance.”
Pinsky is the author of eight collections of poems, including 2011’s Selected Poems. He also has a number of works of prose to his credit, and has served as editor or translator for a variety of books. He has won an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, the Williams Carlos Williams and Shelley Memorial honors from the Poetry Society of America, and the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry. He has served as a chancellor for the Academy of American Poets (2004-2010) and has garnered a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship.