PhotoPublic Poetry brought Robert Pinsky, former Poet Laureate of the United States, to Houston Texas, September 8-11, 2015. During that time, he launched the Favorite Poem Project in our city 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 launch and book signing of the ARTlines2 Anthology: Art Becomes Poetry there; gave a talk & reading to students at UH-Downtown and visited 350 very diverse high school students! It was an amazing three days!

Our organization began working with Robert Pinsky 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 Anthology we published.  After that, we noticed that our city had not yet participated in his signature “Favorite Poem Project.”  This national and international project gives 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 arranged for his visit to Houston..

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.

No Ticket Required – Three Free Events


September 8, 9, 10

UHD, Ideson Library & MFAH
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Public Poetry is bringing US Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky to Houston for three events, all free and open to the public. On Tuesday Sept. 8,  he will be reading at UH-Downtown @ 5:30. On Wednesday, Sept 9, launching The Favorite Poem Project at the Ideson library, downtown on @ 6:00 PM.  On Thursday, Sept 10, he will give a talk on ekphrasis at the MFAH, Cullinan Hall in connection with the launch of our ARTlines2 Anthology: Art Becomes Poetry.

About Robert Pinsky

Robert Pinsky is the only poet to have served three terms as United States Poet Laureate (1997-2000), and is the founder of The Favorite Poem Project , in which thousands of Americans in towns and cities across the county share their favorite poems.  He is the author of nineteen books, his most recent including his Selected Poems and the anthology Singing School: Learning to Write (and Read) Poetry by Studying with the Masters. Pinsky’s translation of The Inferno of Dante Alighieri received the Los Angeles Times Book Award in poetry. His volume of poetry The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 was a Pulitzer Prize nominee and received the Lenore Marshall Award.  Recently, he has been recording poetry with jazz musicians and Circumstantial Productions released his CD PoemJazz, with Grammy-winning pianist Laurence Hobgood. He is the only member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters to have appeared on both The Simpsons and The Colbert Report!

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston collaborated with Public during Fall 2014, to run the ARTlines2 Poetry Competition. Poets nationwide were invited to submit poems about five artworks on view at the Museum. A distinguished panel of judges selected a winning adult and teen poem about each artwork. An anthology will be published featuring the artworks, a text about each work,  the winning poems and additional finalists, a statement from each judge and an introduction written by Tony Hoagland.

The September 2015 Artful Thursday will feature one of the distinguished judges, Robert Pinsky, U. S. Poet Laureate (1997-2000), to coincide with the launch of ARTlines2 Anthology: Art Becomes Poetry.

Of his Artful Thursday presentation, Pinsky writes:

We sometimes celebrate a poem or a picture by saying it is memorable. In the old mythology, the mother of the muses is Memory.

Both of the two arts that have been brought together, imaginatively, in Houston have included the humble purpose of assisting memory: a rhyme or a phrase, like a sketch or photograph, can help us remember.

But there is always transformation, willed or unwilled, memory revised or corrected or undermined or improved. Ekphrasis brings that transformation to the foreground as a radiant, manifest reality, impossible to ignore, with infinite variations. The poem is not the picture.

Copies of ARTlines2 Anthology: Art Becomes Poetry will be for sale in the MFAH Shop, and Pinsky and other poets – including judges, winners and finalists – will be available for signing.

See our calendar for information on all our upcoming events featuring Robert Pinsky!

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The Favorite Poem Project is supported by a City’s Initiative Grant from The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance.  The ARTlines2 Anthology: Art Becomes Poetry is supported by a grant from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance