For Immediate Release
November 15, 2012
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Rochester, N.Y. – Nodding his head to the rhythm of a tinkling piano, poet Robert Pinsky energized the reading of his poetry with jazz music. Pinsky was in Rochester for The College at Brockport’s annual Writers Voice event, and engaged more than 250 listeners who filled Temple B’rith Kodesh to see and hear a leading voice in contemporary American poetry.
Pinsky covered topics ranging from reincarnation to English Renaissance poet Ben Jonson with his reading. One piece he called “Improvisation on Yiddish,” which he prefaced by acknowledging the evening’s venue. Following his reading, Pinsky answered numerous questions from the audience.
Pinsky was joined on stage by Harold Danko, professor of jazz studies and contemporary media at the Eastman School of Music. Danko accompanied Pinsky on piano during the reading.
A former saxophone player, Pinsky told the audience that “The only thing that kept me from a career as a jazz musician was a deficiency of talent. He writes – or composes, as he told the audience – from a musical sensibility: “I try to play with the words what I couldn’t play with the horn,” he said.
To counterpoint the impact of the piano, twice during the reading Pinsky first read a poem without accompaniment, and then read the same poem with Danko joining in. Danko later told the audience that he “Liked to leave a lot of space and see how he (Pinsky) would lead and I would follow.”
Pinsky, US Poet Laureate from 1997 to 2000, is the author of 19 books, most of which are collections of his own poetry. His published work also includes critically acclaimed translations, including The Inferno of Dante and The Separate Notebooks by Czeslaw Milosz. His honors include an Arts and Letters Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the William Carlos Williams Award, the Shelley Memorial prize from the Poetry Society of America and the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry. Pinsky is also a recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, and he served as a chancellor for the Academy of American Poets. He is currently poetry editor of the weekly Internet magazine Slate and teaches in the graduate writing program at Boston University.
The Writer’s Voice lecture is in its ninth season, having previously featured novelist/essayist Francine Prose, poet Galway Kinnell, novelist/essayist Joyce Carol Oates, poet Yusef Komunyakaa, novelist Ha Jin, poet Ted Kooser, novelist/memoirist John Edgar Wideman, and poet CK Williams. The Writer's Voice lecture and the spring Art of Fact Award lecture are both sponsored by M&T Bank.
The College at Brockport, State University of New York
350 New Campus Drive * Brockport, New York 14420-2931
(585) 395-2754 * FAX (585) 395-2723 * www.brockport.edu