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Robert Pinsky’s poetry backed by jazz at PLNU

Tickets are still available for day three at

Poet, essayist, and literary critic, Robert Pinsky, made a stop at Point Loma Tuesday to speak with the students at PLNU as well as put on a jazz and poetry show later that night. Pinsky first held a Q&A session with students and facility to answer questions from the audience and have three students share their own work.
One of those students who shared her own poem was Ellen Huang. She was surprised to be sharing her poem out loud, but felt confident once she started to speak.
“In the moment, I knew what to do,” Huang said.
Huang, as a writing major in love with poetry, found the talk helpful for any aspiring poets. Yet, she was curious about how non-poets responded to the talk.
Nursing major, Hailey Korn, also attended the event with Pinsky and was pleased about attending.
“Yes, I am nursing major, but I love poetry,” Korn said.
Pinsky started off as a musician but ended up finding poetry and falling in love with that instead. He also shared an anecdote in which he played clarinet for a gig at a nice club and Pinsky said, “I stunk up the place.”
On the car ride back from the gig, he decided that he wanted to be a poet.
“I was ambitious to be an artist,” Pinsky said.
Only 15 minutes into the Q&A Pinsky was already quoting a second poem from memory. He also gave advice to the students who asked him about speed bumps and writer’s block.
“Don’t rush to the next, listen to what you have,” Pinsky said.
Pinsky gave students advice throughout the hour in Fermanian, urging students to collect the work of other poets they admire.
“Keep an anthology of things you love,” Pinsky said.
Pinsky also said, “I don’t have to worry about being Robert, I’m stuck with him.”
Pinsky has accomplished many great things in his life like becoming a U.S. Poet Laureate and working in the Library of Congress for close to three years. While many people would say he is a successful poet, Pinsky says, “Success is much lesser than glory.”
This quote stuck out to Huang and she went on to say, “I want that engraved somewhere.”
Pinsky emphasized the importance to focus on doing something great and glorious rather than doing something that will bring money and success.
Pinsky said that coming here was great because he got to work with jazz musicians. During the seven o’clock performance, Pinsky got together with three student jazz musicians here at PLNU and performed his poems along with their music.
The three musicians featured were Steven Brown on percussion, Matt Giles on the piano, and Evan Killeen on the bass.
“They really are quite wonderful,” Pinsky said referring to the band.
As Pinsky spoke words of poetry, the three musicians played their improvised pieces of music.
“I grew up wanting to be like these guys, a musician,” Pinsky said as he gestured over to the three young men.
Robert Pinsky inspired aspiring poets and entertained the public who didn’t know what to expect from his performance. The 22nd Annual Writer’s Symposium by the Sea is off to a great start.


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Nicholas Kjeldgaard

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