He’s the Pulitzer-lauded author of more than a dozen books, volumes of poetry and essays on art. A Ph.D. in philosophy and a professor at major halls of learning. He produced what’s regarded as the definitive translation of Dante’s Inferno — and his unprecedented three terms as Poet Laureate of the United States resulted in the widely acclaimed Favorite Poem Project.
If the accomplishments of Robert Pinsky seem so awesome as to render him almost unapproachable, it helps to recall that this is America’s first Laureate to have also chalked up memorable appearances on The Simpsons and The Colbert Report.
Above all else, Robert Pinsky is a native son of the Jersey Shore, born and raised in Long Branch — a man who’s every bit as apt to rhapsodize about a classic Max’s hot dog as he is about the likes of Greville and Gascoigne.
When Pinsky takes the stage of the Pollak Theatre at Monmouth University on the night of Friday, March 30, it will represent a homecoming for the celebrated figure who delivered the commencement address on the West Long Branch campus back in 1997 — and, as opposed to the afternoon reading that he performed at Monmouth exactly three years from that date, this master of the meter will be swinging an altogether different, decidedly nocturnal beat.
Among his many formidable credits, Robert Pinsky is also an avid jazz buff and amateur musician, who’s been known to relax by jamming with many of the heaviest cats extant. For his 8 p.m. performance at the Pollak, this attractor of popstar-sized crowds — an artist whose working-class origins continue to grace his work with a muscular joy and a never-condescending clarity — will be accompanied by Ben Allison, a double bassist branded by JazzTimes as a “visionary composer, adventurous improviser, and strong organizational force on the New York City jazz scene.”
Laced with improvisational energy and a nod to the Beats of the mid 20th century, the collaboration is a natural for the writer who once aspired to the tenor sax mastery of the late Stan Getz; a writer who told The Paris Review “in jazz, as in poetry, there is always that play between what’s regular and what’s wild. That has always appealed to me.”
“In poetry, it’s the sounds of the words and syllables and sentences that is paramount,” says the author whose 2009 volume Thousands of Broadways employed numerous images and vivid recollections of his seaside hometown. “Performance by the poet or an actor is just a hint…the audience’s breath, by which I mean any reader’s voice, is the medium for a poem.”
For information or to purchase tickets, contact the Monmouth University Performing Arts Box Office at 732-263-6889, or online at www.monmouth.edu/arts.