It's the birthday of poet and essayist Robert Pinsky, born in Long Branch, New Jersey (1940), who said, "I grew up in a disorderly, unpredictable household, jangling alternations of comedy and history, insanity and idealism, doubt and head injury, music and anger, loss and wit." He's the author of 19 books, including his poetry collections Jersey Rain (2000), Samurai Song (2001), and Gulf Music: Poems (2007). Recent works include Thousands of Broadways: Dreams and Nightmares of the American Small Town (2009), a collection of essays; and Death and the Powers, a libretto for composer Tod Machover.
He's been asked many times how he got started as a poet, and has variously answered: "Imitating Yeats, Allen Ginsberg, Frost, Eliot"; "Reading the dictionary and daydreaming about the sounds of words when I was a kid"; "Liking entertaining people when playing the saxophone as a teenager." And another time: "Whatever makes a child want to glue macaroni on a paper plate and paint the assemblage and see it on the refrigerator — that has always been strong in me."