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Winter-Spring 2012 Table of Contents

PEN Honors Robert Pinsky for Lifetime Achievement

Three-time U.S. poet laureate

| From Commonwealth | By Rich Barlow. Video by BU Productions
Watch this video on YouTube

In the video above, CAS Professor Robert Pinsky reads from his poem “Rhyme.”

Robert Pinsky, the author of eight collections of poetry and one of the country’s leading advocates for the art, was honored last November with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the writers group PEN. The award, carrying a $1,000 prize, was presented at PEN Center USA in Beverly Hills, Calif., one of the group’s two American centers and the award giver.

The College of Arts & Sciences English professor, who was U.S. poet laureate an unprecedented three times, from 1997 to 2000, says the honor is special because PEN’s role is special. “Its mission includes work for freedom of expression and efforts on behalf of imprisoned or threatened writers around the world. That’s a particularly gratifying and, in a way, humbling aspect of this award.”

As poet laureate, Pinsky was a “barnstormer” (so described by the New York Times), contributing poems to mark special days on PBS’s NewsHour and exhorting all Americans to share their favorite poems with his Favorite Poem Project. “If people ask in 1,000 years who Americans were,” he told the Times, “this might help them figure it out.”

Pinsky translated Dante’s Inferno in 1994, putting the classic on the best-seller lists. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize.

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