This report comes to us from a trusted correspondent, who wishes to remain anonymous:
Gather three of the country’s most respected poets in one room, including two former U.S. poets laureate, and what do you do? Talk about yourself, of course—and have the poets talk about you, too.
On Thursday, April 20, the editors of the Washington Post‘s Book World celebrated 10 years of “Poet’s Choice”—the only weekly column devoted to poetry in a major American daily newspaper!—by inviting three of the poets who made the feature famous to talk about their art. After introducing seemingly every person who ever coughed on a word while producing Poet’s Choice during the last decade, Book World editors finally got around to introducing the celebrity wordsmiths: National Book Critics Circle Award winner Edward Hirsch and two former U.S. poets laureate, Rita Dove and Robert Pinsky.
Book World Editor Marie Arana got the honor of introducing Pinsky, who is the current Poet’s Choice columnist. When Arana mistakenly noted that Pinsky was from Asbury Park, N.J., the poet groaned loudly and comically and responded that he’s actually from Long Branch, a town about six miles north of Asbury Park. “What’s the difference?” Arana said, exuding not a whiff of embarrassment.
“It’s only the difference between Poland and Germany,” Pinsky retorted with mock astonishment.
Arana’s flub set the tone for the event held at the Post: This gathering was about the Post, not poetry, stupid. The poets praised the editors, they fielded questions from Book World editors, and they discussed how great it was to have a weekly column devoted to poetry in a major American newspaper. Here’s what they weren’t given much time to do: read poetry. The three poets read a total of six short poems during the entire 90-minute event.