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Robert Pinsky, U.S. Poet Laureate: A Resource Guide

About Robert Pinsky at the Library of Congress

Robert Pinsky served as the Library of Congress's 9th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry from 1997-2000. The links below provide more information about his activities at the Library, including webcasts, blog posts, and related news releases.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced the appointment of Robert Pinsky as the Library's ninth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry on March 28, 1997. Pinsky took up his duties in the fall of 1997.

While serving as Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky launched the Favorite Poem Project External for National Poetry Month in 1998. The project took place in five cities—New York, Washington, Boston, St. Louis, and Los Angeles—where Americans of all walks of life were recorded reading aloud their favorite poems. Pinsky explained that he believes poetry is meant to be read aloud.

On May 21, 1998, Librarian of Congress Billington appointed Pinsky to a second term. On making the reappointment, Billington said:

In his first term, Robert Pinsky has actively encouraged a national renaissance of spoken poetry. His vision of recording a broad cross section of Americans reading their favorite poems has met with heartfelt enthusiasm throughout the country. The Library looks forward to enriching its unique poetry archives with the recordings he selects in his second term.

In preparation for the Library's Bicentennial, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington made an unprecedented announcement: Robert Pinsky would serve a third term as Poet Laureate. Pinsky served his final term with three Special Consultants—former Poet Laureate Rita Dove, Louise Glück, and W.S. Merwin.

Of Pinsky's appointment to a third term, Librarian of Congress Billington said:

Robert Pinsky is well suited to be the first Poet Laureate to serve three consecutive terms. His Favorite Poem Project has captured the imagination of young and old across the nation and heightened awareness of the Library of Congress's role as the home of America's poetry archives and its Poets Laureate.

In celebration of the Library's Bicentennial, Pinsky's appointment to a third term, and the appointment of three Special Consultants, the Library featured a conference on "Poetry and the American People: Reading, Performance, and Publication" in April 2000. During this conference, Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project archives, comprising 1,000 audio and 200 video recordings, were presented as a gift to the Library of Congress. View a webcast of the Bicentennial Symposium here:

Pinsky was the first and only poet laureate to serve three terms, finishing his duties in spring 2000.

Robert Pinsky has remained close with the Library of Congress, returning for a number of events—including a talk on the importance of poetry in the public sphere in 2002. View a webcast of "Poetry in the Public Sphere" here:

Robert Pinsky has been featured on the Poetry and Literature Center's blog, From the Catbird Seat. Those blog posts are linked below.

The Library of Congress features several recordings of Robert Pinsky reading and discussing his poetry and the poetry of other poets. These are listed below.


Other Recordings