The first evening of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival — Friday, April 20 — will feature three exciting poets: former poet laureate, Robert Pinsky; Poetry Editor for the Harvard Review, Major Jackson; and former director of the Favorite Poem Project, Maggie Dietz.
Pinsky’s first two terms as United States Poet Laureate were marked by such visible dynamism, and such national enthusiasm in response, that the Library of Congress appointed him to an unprecedented third term. As poet laureate, Robert Pinsky founded the Favorite Poem Project, in which thousands of Americans—of varying backgrounds, all ages, and from every state—shared their favorite poems. The anthology Americans’ Favorite Poems, which includes letters from project participants, is in its 18th printing. The most recent anthology, An Invitation to Poetry, comes with a DVD featuring 27 of the FPP video segments, as seen on PBS. In April 2009, W.W. Norton published Essential Pleasures: A New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud. Elegant and tough, vividly imaginative, Pinsky’s poems have earned praise for their wild musical energy and ambitious range. Selected Poems, (spring 2011) is his most recent volume of poetry. His The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 was a Pulitzer Prize nominee and received the Lenore Marshall Award and the Ambassador Book Award of the English Speaking Union.
Pinsky has released a new CD this month with award-winning pianist Laurence Hobgood. POEMJAZZ treats a voice speaking poetry as having a role like that of a horn: speech with its own poetic melody and rhythm, in conversation with what the music is doing. To put it simply, POEMJAZZ is a conversation between the sounds of poetry and music. Order your copy of POEMJAZZ.
Dietz returns to the festival in 2012. Her first book of poems Perennial Fall (University of Chicago Press) won the 2007 Jane Kenyon Award for Outstanding Book of Poetry. For many years she directed the Favorite Poem Project, Robert Pinsky’s special undertaking during his tenure as U.S. Poet Laureate, and is coeditor of three anthologies related to the, most recently An Invitation to Poetry. Her awards include the Grolier Poetry Prize, the George Bennett Fellowship at Phillips Exeter Academy, as well as fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Her work has appeared widely in journals such as Poetry, Ploughshares, Agni, Harvard Review and Salmagundi. She teaches at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and is assistant poetry editor for the online magazine Slate. Dietz lives in New Hampshire with her husband, the poet Todd Hearon, and their four-year-old twins.