Pinsky's Choice: Former Poet Laureate Bids Farewell to Poet's Choice


In last Sunday's edition of the Washington Post Book World, Robert Pinsky, the former U.S. poet laureate who has been called "poetry's rockstar" for his populist approach to verse, signed off as writer of the nationally syndicated Poet's Choice column after a three-year run. According to Book World editor Marie Arana, poet and memoirist Mary Karr, whose most recent poetry collection is Sinners Welcome (HarperCollins, 2006), will take over the column this Sunday.

Pinsky, the author or editor of nearly twenty books who served as poet laureate from 1997 to 2000, chose two sonnets with which to bid farewell: "Night Harvest" by Vietnamese poet Lam Thi My Da and "Is It Still the Same" by Eavan Boland. Pinsky wrote more than 150 installments of Poet's Choice, which was created by Robert Hass in 1997. Hass preceded Pinsky as poet laureate, and the two were also classmates at Stanford University in the 1960s. Edward Hirsch, who is president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, took over the column in 2002. Both Hass and Hirsch have published collections of their columns—Editor's Choice (Harcourt, 2006) and Now and Then: The Poet's Choice Columns 1997-2000 (Shoemaker & Hoard, 2007), respectively—so it's a good bet that Pinsky's is forthcoming.

During his tenure as poet laureate, Pinsky created the Favorite Poem Project, in which people of all ages and backgrounds are invited to share their favorite poems. Seven years after Pinsky left the post, the project continues to document poetry’s role in the lives of everyday Americans at

About the poems featured in his last Poet's Choice column, Pinsky wrote, "Different though they are, these poems share a deep assurance that something in culture, in art, in the art of poetry and its forms, endures to speak across distances: from one culture to another, from place to place, and across time from generation to generation."