Writing to The New York Times, Joshua Weiner states that the anthology Singing School by Robert Pinsky, the U.S. poet who is a Consulting Editor for Interlitq, and who contributed poetry to Issue 7 of Interlitq, “is clearly meant to be a kind of ‘curriculum’ in reading and thinking about poems and poetry, independent of any school, except the ‘monuments of its own magnificence’ that William Butler Yeats claims is the only singing school worth attending””:
What Is Past
To the Editor:
David Orr writes that the “students” who are reading Robert Pinsky’s great anthology “Singing School” probably aren’t in school (On Poetry, Nov. 24). But the book is clearly meant to be a kind of “curriculum” in reading and thinking about poems and poetry, independent of any school, except the “monuments of its own magnificence” that William Butler Yeats claims is the only singing school worth attending: that is, the great poems that compose our inheritance, and that point the way forward for poetry, if it’s to have a future. And of course it will. Pinsky is explicit about that conviction. It’s not only noble, it’s possible to act on; the course that the poetry of the present and the future will take depend on it.
I’m actually using the book this semester in my intermediate poetry workshop, to good effect — students like it and seem to be learning from it. One of the lessons the book teaches again and again is that “accessibility” is really not the issue — that’s a false gambit in Orr’s column. The issue is the quality of sympathy a reader brings to the project of reading new poems and rereading the poems she likes.