This Poetry Foundation profile of Robert Pinsky captures the qualities that attracted Tod Machover to approach Robert about collaborating on an opera.
Robert Pinsky is one of America’s foremost poet-critics. Often called the last of the “civic” or public poets, Pinsky’s criticism and verse reflect his concern for a contemporary poetic diction that nonetheless speaks of a wider experience. Elected Poet Laureate of the United States in 1997, his tenure was marked by ambitious efforts to prove the power of poetry—not just as an intellectual pursuit in the ivory tower, but as a meaningful and integral part of American life. “I think poetry is a vital part of our intelligence, our ability to learn, our ability to remember, the relationship between our bodies and minds,” he told the Christian Science Monitor. “Poetry’s highest purpose is to provide a unique sensation of coordination between the intelligence, emotions and the body. It’s one of the most fundamental pleasures a person can experience.”
Enjoy this interview (audio) with Robert from the Poetry Foundation web site. Towards the end, he reads parts of the libretto text (with some snatches of Tod’s music).
In this Poetry Foundation interview (text), Robert explains the origins of his collaboration with Tod and describes how the libretto came about.
Here is a version of the libretto posted on the Poetry Foundation site. The text has been modified for the final opera version.
Poetry as performance art, put into practice: Here is Robert reading “Samurai Song”
In this BigThing video, Robert speaks about death and aging – the central theme in Death and the Powers
On Dante and acceptance of death – Big Think on Death (Last Canto of Paradiso)
And of course the Favorite Poem Project.