Public Poetry began its relationship with Robert Pinsky, former Poet Laureate of the United States in 2014 when we asked him to be one of the judges for the ARTlines2 competition and to write a judge’s statement for the ARTlines2 Anthology: Art Becomes Poetry. Then, seeing that our city had not participated in his signature “Favorite Poem Project,” we decided to remedy that. This national and international project give ordinary people the opportunity to “come out” as poetry lovers by reading a favorite poem in public. Taking poetry public is what our organization is all about, so we brought him to Houston for 3 days.
During that time, he launched the Favorite Poem Project in Houston with Mayor Annise Parker, city officials and a cross section of the public reading poems and speaking movingly about why they selected their poem; gave a talk on ekphrasis at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and participated in the Anthology launch and book signing there; gave a talk & reading to students at UH-Downtown and visited 350 very diverse high school students! It was an amazing 3 days!
And the beat goes on…Favorite Poem reading have become a regular feature of our monthly library readings. Anyone can come up to the mike and read a poem by their favorite poet, adding a few words about why they chose it.