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13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

The Favorite Poem Project: William Pierce reads Wallace Stevens


Click above to hear William Pierce, senior editor at the literarymagazine Agni, read his favorite poem. Photos by Edward A. Brown

William Pierce, senior editor at the literary magazine Agni
“13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” by Wallace Stevens

“When I read poetry or fiction, I’m immersed — or so I think — in other people’s ways of seeing the world. In ‘13 Ways,’ Stevens plays at chasing and capturing that elusive ideal of literature. The attempt is comically doomed: these 13 ways are all Stevens’ — and any one way of looking is sufficiently personal, and therefore cryptic, that language can only approximate it.”

“By reading poems we love aloud, we can learn how much pleasure there can be in the sounds of words,” says Robert Pinsky, a College of Arts and Sciences professor of English and former U.S. poet laureate. “It’s as though saying the words of a poem aloud makes 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.

Throughout the semester, BU Today features 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.


3 Comments on 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

  • Anthony Lux on 01.25.2008 at 10:56 am

    Great Feature

    Nice reading and an elegant interpretation of the old Insurance VP’s classic work. Hope to see more like this in the future!

  • Anonymous on 01.25.2008 at 2:18 pm

    Beautiful. Thank you.

  • Anonymous on 01.26.2008 at 10:56 pm

    Beautiful Photos...

    to compliment a beautiful poem. Great work!

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