Poetry’s Appeal | Library Journal’s Day of Dialog

pinsky singingschool Poetrys Appeal | Library Journals Day of DialogLJ’s first-ever poetry panel at Day of Dialog tackled engaging readers—by encouraging reading aloud and by making poetry accessible, not intimidating. Former U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky, Poets House‘s Reggie Harris (Poetry in the Branches), Academy of American Poets’ Jennifer Benka, Norton’s Jill Bialosky (poet, novelist, and editor), and NYPL’s Miriam Tuliao (assistant director, selection, BookOps) discussed ways to “invite readers into poetry,“ as Bialosky put it. Pinsky’s book, Singing School: Learning To Write (and Read) Poetry by Studying the Masters (Norton, Aug.), is both an entry into poetry, featuring some of his favorite poems, and a challenge to readers to create their own anthology of favorites, similar to his favorite poem project.

Stressing that there are no rules when it comes to art, Pinsky says “a poem is not a challenge to say something smart…. A poem should not ‘mean’ but ‘be.’” And if you’re having trouble understanding it, “read it aloud.”

The panelists suggested inviting local authors to read not their own works but the works of others and to invite community members to talk about, or read, poetry: Pinsky proposed Pablo Neruda in multiple languages, pairings of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, Gwendolyn Brooks and Langston Hughes. Tuliao suggested sharing poems of love, loss, the natural world: “People want to have a deep dive into common areas of being human,” she said. And Harris said to focus on which poems “will speak to my constituents.”


One audience member questioned the difficulty of getting permission from publishers to videotape people reading poems aloud, to which Pinsky retorted, “We need to lobby” for that. “Appeal to living poets,” he said, pointing out that the copyright extension act of 1998 was designed to benefit megacorporations like Disney.

Francine Fialkoff About Francine Fialkoff

Francine Fialkoff (ffialkoff@mediasourceinc.com) is Editor-in-Chief, Library Journal.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind


Featuring YD Feedwordpress Content Filter Plugin