Robert Pinsky

Robert Pinsky

Past Event: Friday, October 15, 2010

At Benaroya Hall — Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall

Poetry Icon


Co-Presented by Earshot Jazz Festival.

As a teenager, Robert Pinsky played the saxophone and dreamt of becoming a jazz musician. As an award-winning poet, he has emphasized the relationship between poetry and jazz. Pinsky’s reading will be a collaboration with Earshot Jazz Festival and will feature local musicians Marc Seales on piano and Paul Gabrielson on bass.


“In American culture,“ Pinsky says, “poetry and jazz are kind of advance scouts, making discoveries and innovations that are incorporated into other forms, sometimes softened or diluted a little. Poetry is the most vocal and musical verbal art, short of actual song.”

Pinsky’s poems appear in magazines such as The New YorkerThe Atlantic MonthlyThe Threepenny ReviewAmerican Poetry Review, and frequently in The Best American Poetryanthologies. His poems have earned praise for their wild musical energy, vitality, and ambitious range. The Boston Globe wrote of Pinsky that “no living poet has greater reach of imagination.” His volumeThe Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 was a Pulitzer Prize nominee. Pinsky’s Tanner Lectures at Princeton University were published as Democracy, Culture and the Voice of Poetry. He has written six books of verse, most recently Gulf Music: Poems, as well as prose on the subject of poetry, including Poetry and the World and The Sounds of Poetry. Pinsky is also a translator, perhaps best known for The Inferno of Dante: A New Verse Translation.

Robert Pinsky served an unprecedented three terms as United States Poet Laureate, the public ambassador for poetry. He founded the Favorite Poem Project, in which thousands of Americans of all ages shared poems that were significant for them. The project documented the presence of poetry in the American cultural landscape. Of the project, Pinsky says “The Favorite Poem Project demonstrates that there is more circulation of poetry and more life of poetry than there might seem with the stereotype, the readings are very moving.”

Pinsky appears regularly on PBS’s The PBS NewsHour. He writes the weekly “Poet’s Choice” column for The Washington Post and is the poetry editor for Slate. In 1999 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and is one of the few members to have appeared on “The Simpsons.” Pinsky is the winner of the PEN/Voelcker Award, the William Carlos Williams Prize, the Lenore Marshall Prize, and the 2008 Theodore M. Roethke Memorial Poetry Award, among many others. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with his wife Ellen and teaches in the graduate writing program at Boston University.

Selected WorkPoetryThe Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems, 1966-1996 (1997)Gulf Music: Poems (2008)Jersey Rain: Poems (2001)Americans’ Favorite Poems: The Favorite Poem Project Anthology (editor, with Favorite Poem Project (U. S.) and Maggie Dietz, 1999)The Sounds of Poetry: A Brief Guide (1999)The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems, 1966-1996 (1997)The Inferno of Dante: A New Verse Translation (translator, with Michael Mazur, 1996)

ProseThe Life of David (2005)Poetry and the World (1988)The Situation of Poetry (1978)

LinksInterview (Every Writer’s Resource, September 2008)

Interview (The Cortland Review, March 1998) Favorite Poem Project, founded by Robert Pinsky as U.S. Poet Laureate Biography with full bibliography (Poetry Foundation)         Essential Pleasures: Robert Pinsky’s column on Poems Out Loud (April 2009) Robert Pinsky on Jazz (The Boston Globe, March 2010)\Arts Series, Literary legend John Updike discusses his work with fellow writer David Guterson and Seattle Art Museum Curator of American Art Patricia Junker. Photo by Libby Lewis

Event Details

Benaroya Hall — Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall

200 University Street
Seattle, WA 98101

View directions.

Transportation & Parking

This event will be held in the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall. The Recital Hall is located on the upper level of Benaroya Hall, up the stairs to the left side of the Box Office. Benaroya Hall is located at 200 University Street, directly across Second Avenue from the Seattle Art Museum. The public entrance to Benaroya Hall is along Third Avenue.

By Car

  • From Southbound I-5
    Take the Union Street exit (#165B). Continue onto Union Street and proceed approximately five blocks to Second Avenue. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound I-5
    Exit left onto Seneca Street (exit #165). Proceed two blocks and turn right onto Fourth Avenue. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Union Street. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Seneca Street exit and move into the left lane. Turn left onto First Avenue and proceed one block. Take the next right (at the Hammering Man sculpture) onto University Street. Continue up the hill two blocks to Third Avenue. Turn left onto Third Avenue. Continue to the next block and turn left onto Union Street. Make the next left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Southbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Denny Way/Downtown exit. Keep right and cross over Denny Way onto Wall Street. Proceed approximately five blocks and turn left onto Second Avenue. Continue south on Second Avenue approximately eight blocks. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.

By Bus
Benaroya Hall is served by numerous bus routes. Digital reader boards along Third Avenue display real-time bus arrival information. For details and trip planning tools, call Metro Rider Information at 206.553.3000 (voice) or 206.684.1739 (TDD), or visit Metro online. The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, served by bus and light rail, has a stop just below the Hall (University Street Station).

The 430-car underground garage at Benaroya Hall provides direct access from the enclosed parking area into the Hall via elevators leading to The Boeing Company Gallery. Enter the garage on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street. Maximum vehicle height is 6’8″. Blink charging stations are available for electric vehicles. The event rate is $16.

Parking is also available at:

  • The Cobb Building (enter on University Street between Third and Fourth Avenues).
  • The Russell Investments Center (enter on Union Street between First and Second Avenues).
  • There are many other garages within a one-block radius of Benaroya Hall, along with numerous on-street parking options.


All of our venues have accessible seating and listening devices available. Click here for more information about accessibility and ADA services at Benaroya Hall.

Please contact us at or 206.621.2230 x10 for more details and to let us know you’re coming so we can better accommodate your needs.