Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What Pinksky's reading via The Globe's Bibliophiles

The Globe Sunday books section offers "Bibliophiles," a Q&A with someone lively each week. Not always a writer, but this week, poet Robert Pinsky.

Robert Pinsky is that rare poet who has become a household name. With myriad books to his name, including a best-selling translation of Dante’s “Inferno,’’ Pinsky is a former US poet laureate, founder of the popular Favorite Poem Project, and the poetry editor of Slate.com. He teaches in Boston University’s graduate writing program and lives in Cambridge.

University’s graduate writing program and lives in Cambridge.

What are you reading?

“John Clare’s Autobiographical Writings.’’ I’ve loved Clare’s poetry for a long time but somehow hadn’t read much of his prose. I’m reading some new things, too: the terrific forthcoming novel “Bright’s Passage’’ by Josh Ritter, and James Longenbach’s wonderful new book of poems, “The Iron Key.’’

What books have stuck with you recently?

Two books of stories: Ha Jin’s “A Good Fall’’ and Maile Meloy’s “Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It.’’ The short story is such a difficult form: the great ones are great, from Chekhov to Grace Paley, but the merely pretty good ones are quite forgettable.

...Which poets do you reread most often?

Limiting it to English and classical languages, a random sampling might include Elizabeth Bishop, Emily Dickinson, Alan Dugan, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, George Gascoigne, Thomas Hardy, Robert Herrick, Homer, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Horace (David Ferry’s translation), Ben Jonson, John Keats, Fulke Greville, Marianne Moore, Sylvia Plath, Walter Raleigh, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Sappho, Stevie Smith, May Swenson, Wallace Stevens, Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams, and William Butler Yeats.

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