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Poet: Humans crave challenge


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Taylor House/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Robert Pinsky speaks on 'Sadness and Exaltation' in the Student Union yesterday afternoon.
By Nick Smith
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, November 9, 2005
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Former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky discussed yesterday how humans relate to one another and how our sadness derives from a desire to be challenged.

More than 300 people attended his lecture, "Sadness and Exaltation," in the North Ballroom in the Student Union Memorial Center. The lecture emphasized how people have a general desire to be challenged by others.

This trait is not a factor of adolescence, Pinsky said, as it can be seen in people of all ages.

"I have concluded that what human beings crave is a desire for difficulty," Pinsky said. "This is why the kids are staring at their GameBoys and their Xboxes."

The former poet laureate also said schools should pay more attention to the liberal arts and not get wrapped up in technology because an important part of learning comes from the act of creating, whether by playing an instrument or reciting a poem aloud.

"The school board would be foolish to invest in laptops and software because they become obsolete," Pinsky said. "The cello and the piano will not become obsolete."

In addition to his lecture, Pinsky read poems by Michelangelo, William Butler Yeats and William Carlos Williams as well as several of his own works.

Raja Antoine, a psychology senior, said he was pleased Pinsky came to campus and that he felt inspired by the lecture and hopes the UA can continue to bring interesting speakers to campus.

"I think it's incredible they were able to get someone like that here," Antoine said.

Ted Gerstle, a creative writing senior, said he thought Pinsky's poetry reading was worth attending.

"There have been quite a few poets that have come here," Gerstle said. "This was great."

Pinsky's appearance at the UA was made possible through the help of George Davis, provost and executive vice president of the Office of Academic Affairs.

Davis said he originally thought of bringing Pinsky to the UA shortly after the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

"We've got to have someone come here to talk about the symbol and language of poetry and start a dialogue," Davis said.

Pinsky served as U.S. poet laureate from 1997 to 2000 and is the author of six collections of poetry. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his collection, "The Figured Wheel." He is a regular on "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer" and portrayed himself on an episode of "The Simpsons."

Pinsky's lecture was the third of the Provost Visiting Scholar on Creativity and Imagination program. Davis said he hopes Pinsky's appearance will inspire other departments to bring speakers to campus.

Pinsky also plans to speak at a colloquium this morning at 9 in the "Swede" Johnson building, which is presented by the Poetry Center.

His visit to the UA was sponsored in part by TIAA-CREF, a financial service company, Davis said. He declined to provide the figure the company funded for Pinsky's appearance.



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