Do not go gentle into that good night

The Favorite Poem Project: Astronomy grad student Paul Howell reads Dylan Thomas

“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 Friday, BU Today will feature a member of the BU community reading his or her favorite poem, and on Thursday, November 16, we’ll host our own Favorite Poem Reading at BU Central. 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

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."

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Do not go gentle into that good night