Robert Pinsky with Jersey Breaks: Becoming an American Poet
Presented in partnership with the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center, Porter Square Books, Mass Poetry, and GrubStreet
One of today’s best-loved poets, a three-time United States Poet Laureate, looks back on his life and family.
“In this lyrical coming-of-age story…Robert Pinsky provides some of the ingredients to his becoming an American original.” — Author Russell Shorto
In late-1940s Long Branch, a historic but run-down Jersey Shore resort town, in a neighborhood of Italian, Black, and Jewish families, Robert Pinsky began his unlikely journey to becoming a poet. Descended from a bootlegger grandfather, an athletic father, and a rebellious tomboy mother, Pinsky traces the roots of his poetry back to the voices of his neighborhood, to music and a distinctly American tradition of improvisation, with influences including Mark Twain and Ray Charles, Marianne Moore and Mel Brooks, Emily Dickinson and Orthodox Jewish liturgy. Candid, engaging, and wry, Jersey Breaks offers an intimate self-portrait and a unique poetic understanding of American culture.
Robert Pinsky is the author of numerous books of poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Figured Wheel, and prose, including The Sounds of Poetry. He served as United States Poet Laureate from 1997 to 2000, during which time he founded the Favorite Poem Project. He has edited several anthologies, most recently The Book of Poetry for Hard Times. He teaches at Boston University and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.