Quick, joyful, and playfully astringent, with surprising comparisons and examples, this collection takes an unconventional approach to the art of poetry. Instead of rules, theories, or recipes, Singing School emphasizes ways to learn from great work: studying magnificent, monumentally enduring poems and how they are made- in terms borrowed from the "singing school" of William Butler Yeats's "Sailing to Byzantium." Robert Pinsky's headnotes for each of the 80 poems and his brief introductions to each section take a writer's view of specific works: William Carlos Williams's "Fine Work with Pitch and Copper" for intense verbal music; Emily Dickinson's "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" for wild imagination in matter-of-fact language; Robert Southwell's "The Burning Babe" for surrealist aplomb; Wallace Stevens's "The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm" for subtlety in meter. Included are poems by Aphra Behn, Allen Ginsberg, George Herbert, John Keats, Mina Loy, Thomas Nashe, and many other master poets.
This anthology respects poetry's mysteries in two senses of the word: techniques of craft and strokes of the inexplicable.
Robert Pinsky is the author of eight collections of poetry including, most recently, his Selected Poems. His translation The Inferno of Dante won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry. His CD PoemJazz, with Grammy-winning pianist Laurence Hobgood, was released in 2012. As United States Poet Laureate, Pinsky founded the Favorite Poem Project (www.favoritepoem.org), in which thousands of Americans shared their favorite poems. That project gave rise to the previous anthologies, Americans' Favorite Poems and An Invitation to Poetry, with each poem accompanied by readers' comments. Pinsky teaches at Boston University.