Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Review: Jersey Breaks, by Robert Pinsky


Jersey Breaks: Becoming an American Poet, by Robert Pinsky. Published 2022 by W.W. Norton & Company. Memoir.

For those of you who don't know Robert Pinsky he is a former U.S. Poet Laureate and taught at Harvard and Wellesley, among other places. I sort of got to know about him in the 1990s and 2000s as a public figure around Cambridge, Mass. And now I live in New Jersey so it's fun to read about his life here and get a sense of history.

He grew up in New Jersey in a colorful, diverse community and the book covers his life in non-chronological form, mostly about his growth as a writer and poet and his career in academia. I actually forgot that he taught at Wellesley at one point (where I went to college) so it was fun to rediscover that and hear about the community of writers in and around Cambridge in the 1970s-1990s or so. 

The book is a relatively quick read; I was reading two chapters a night but after about the middle of the book I slowed down because I was enjoying his voice so much. It feels like he is chatting to you. He is such a good writer and the book is immersive and pulls the reader along with its current. I felt like I got a good sense of the things pushing and pulling him in different directions, his influences both literary and familial. His personal life takes a back seat here at least after his childhood, which he narrates vividly.

Over all it was a really satisfying read and I could even see re-reading it at some point which I seldom if ever do with nonfiction. It does also make me want to seek out his poetry. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ooooh I definitely need to get this one.