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Review: “Democracy, Culture and the Voice of Poetry” by Robert Pinsky


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Robert Pinsky is a Poet and Writer that provides insight into the mechanisms of poetry in our modern day. “Democracy, Culture and the Voice of Poetry” is one of Pinsky’s books on poetry that provides readers and fellow poets information and a space of reflection when it comes to Poetry in America.

I found this book helpful since I have been recently researching the role of poetry in American Culture, specifically when it comes to a surge of political writing and poetry during tumultuous times. Keeping in mind the protest poets of the past, I wanted to gain a more complex view of the role of poetry in America. What does it mean to write ‘political’ poetry? To write protest poetry? Do these poems last, are they cherished by audiences in another time and country? Or are they encapsulated in their own time and place as relics of specific events and times?

Pinsky’s book answered some of these questions I had although with a more complex response that pulled conversations and philosophical theories from people such as Alexis de Tocqueville . I also kept in mind that this book was published in 2005, not that old but it has been more than a decade since its first release. What is important is that Pinsky dismisses the idea that poetry is only for entertainment and that it does in fact (sometimes inadvertently) reflect the democratic culture of the U.S. at a specific time.

This book was insightful and interesting, a quick read too. I felt like it did a good job at bringing depth to Pinsky’s discussion and his own projects such as Favorite Poems Project. I did think that its purpose was to argue Pinsky’s own argument on the importance and role of poetry in America rather than discussing the ways in which one can write such poetry. I would recommend this book for any Pinsky reader and contemporary poet interested in the subject.



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