The pleasures of poetryout loud
Among our Poets Laureate, who has doneand continues to domore to bring poetry to people, and people to poetry, than Robert Pinsky? Author of eight collections of verse himself, translator of the Inferno (a national bestseller), essayist, editor and critic, not only of poetry but of America itself, Pinsky has assembled a new anthology of poems to read aloud, Essential Pleasures. Accompanied by a CD on which Pinsky reads a brief selection, including Keats and the single heartbreaking poem left behind by Chidiock Tichbourne, this book brings home the message behind much that he has written earlier, including The Sounds of Poetry: what's on the page is primarily an aural and oral art, fully enjoyed when we're willing to use our ears as well as our eyes.
Pinsky divides the book into seven modes of poems, preceding each selection with a succinct and helpful essay on what's to come. Starting with "Short Lines, Frequent Rhymes," he moves to "Ballads, Repetitions, Refrains," where the reader will find one of the earliest and most beloved poems in the language, the anonymously written "Western Wind." There's a section of love poems, of course, and the book ends with "Parodies, Ripostes, Jokes, and Insults," including C.D. Wright's "Personals," which opens, "Some nights I sleep with my dress on. My teeth / are small and even . . . Since 1971 or before, I have hunted a bench / where I could eat my pimento cheese in peace." Essential Pleasures is a delight to keep at any bedside, on any desk or in any lunchbox.