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The Favorite Poem Project: September 2006

By reading poems we love aloud, we can learn how much pleasure there can be in the sounds of words,” says Robert Pinsky, a CAS professor and former U.S. poet laureate. “It’s as though saying the words of a poem aloud make one feel more able, more capable than in ordinary life. You enter a different state.”

Pinsky founded the Favorite Poem Project in 1997 during the first of an unprecedented three terms as poet laureate to encourage Americans to celebrate and explore their love of poetry. Since then, the project — now directed by BU poet Maggie Dietz (GRS’97) — has produced three anthologies and more than 1,000 readings around the country.

Every week, BU Today will feature a member of the BU community reading his or her favorite poem. Any student or faculty or staff member can participate.

If you’d like to read your favorite poem for BU Today, e-mail us at today@bu.edu.

Reverend Dr. Robert Alan Hill, Dean of Marsh Chapel
“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

“I selected this poem, because it is familiar, because it is from New England, and because it is about calling, or vocation, and that’s so important, particularly in the lovely community of a university.”

Peter Hawkins, CAS professor of religion and director of the Luce Program in Scripture and Literary Arts
“Untitled” by ee cummings

“This is one of the first real poems that I ever heard. Poetry in high school had been “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree” until my teacher Marilyn Goodman introduced us to ee cummings when I was a junior. She introduced this poem, which I instantly decided was what literature should be about. Why? Because it makes you think about language; for me, it makes me think about God in new ways. It’s tricky, it’s fun, it’s beautiful, and it sounds good to me when I read it.”

Paul Howell (GRS’08), doctoral student in astronomy
“Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas

"At its most obvious level, the poem is written to a dying father urging him not to die. But, more abstractly, it’s about not letting the passion in you die as you grow older.  And I thought that was appropriate, as a 50-year old graduate student. Clearly, astronomy is a passion of mine."

Colleen Quinn, program coordinator in the Student Activities Office
“Sick” by Shel Silverstein
“Back in third grade I had to memorize a poem, and this poem, about a little girl making up excuses not to go to school, always makes me laugh.”