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LHUM-100 Visiting Artists Spring 2012

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Harry Pickens (February 28-March 2)

Harry Pickenswas born in 1960 in Brunswick, Georgia, a town on the coast between Savannah, Ga., and Jacksonville, Fla. His mother played organ and sang at church. His grandfather, whom he describes as a “comprehensive musician,” played tenor saxophone, piano, and violin; sang and conducted choirs in church; and also played the trumpet for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1914 and 1915.

Pickens began playing music when he was 5 or 6, "annoying his family," he recalls, with endless repetitions of the first few songs he learned to play at the piano. Soon, he was accompanying his mother at church, she on organ and he on piano, and his excitement for music grew.

As a young boy, Pickens says, he was a rather “frail and precocious child,” prone to illness and shying away from athletic activities and the like. He preferred instead to spend time cultivating his own rich and fertile imagination, often retreating into this inner world. However, as Pickens grew into a young man, he found the life of an extroverted musician more comfortable. He declares that these two periods of growth and the subsequent combination of values he developed—the solitary and introspective within the bright and extroverted—remain the essential elements of his personal creative process.

Pickens’ international career as a jazz pianist has taken him to 17 countries throughout Europe, Japan, and the Americas. He has collaborated with many legendary musicians, including Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, James Moody, Milt Jackson (Modern Jazz Quartet), Don Braden (musical director for The Cosby Show), Bob Hurst (bassist for The Tonight Show) and hundreds of others. His performance credits include recordings on the Blue Note label, international radio and television appearances (including Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz), and engagements in top concert and club venues worldwide.

Pickens lived in New Jersey in 1979, moved to Southern California for 12 years, then moved to Louisville in 1999 to be closer to his family. He soon fell in love with Kentucky, finding the people warm, inviting, friendly, and open-minded, and discovering the beauty of the changing seasons in Kentucky’s landscape.

Pickens enjoys teaching and working with several charity organizations, including the Kentucky Refugee Ministries program in Louisville. There he leads various musical ensembles in an effort to bring people from different nationalities and backgrounds together through the creative joy of making music.

In 2009, Pickens received the Education Award in the Kentucky Governor's Awards in the Arts program.
This biography came from Kentucky Muse.

See more resources on Harry Pickens.

Events at Berklee:

  • Tuesday, February 28, 4:00pm-5:50am - TBA
  • Thursday, March 1, 9:00am-10:50am - TBA
  • Friday, March 2, 9:00am-10:50am - TBA




Dr. Robert Pinsky (April 10-13)

Former U.S. Poet Laureate, Professor, Liberal Arts Symposium Speaker

On October 20, 1940, Robert Pinsky was born in Long Branch, New Jersey. He received a BA from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and earned both an MA and PhD in Philosophy from Stanford University, where he was a Stegner Fellow in creative writing, and studied under the poet and critic Yvor Winters.

He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Gulf Music: Poems (Farrar, Straus & Giroux: 2007); Jersey Rain (2000); The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 (1996), which received the 1997 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and was a Pulitzer Prize nominee; The Want Bone (1990); History of My Heart (1984); An Explanation of America (1980); and Sadness and Happiness (1975).

He is also the author of several prose titles, including The Life of David (Schocken, 2006); Democracy, Culture, and the Voice of Poetry (2002); The Sounds of Poetry (1998), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Poetry and the World (1988); and The Situation of Poetry (1977). In 1985 he also released a computerized novel, Mindwheel.

Pinsky has published two acclaimed works of translation: The Inferno of Dante (1994), which was a Book-of-the-Month-Club Editor's Choice, and received both the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award; and The Separate Notebooks by Czeslaw Milosz (with Renata Gorczynski and Robert Hass).

About his work, the poet Louise Glück has said, "Robert Pinsky has what I think Shakespeare must have had: dexterity combined with worldliness, the magician's dazzling quickness fused with subtle intelligence, a taste for tasks and assignments to which he devises ingenious solutions."

From 1997 to 2000, he served as the United States Poet Laureate and Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. During that time, he founded the Favorite Poem Project, a program dedicated to celebrating, documenting and encouraging poetry's role in Americans' lives.

In 1999, he co-edited Americans' Favorite Poems: The Favorite Poem Project Anthology with Maggie Dietz. Other anthologies he has edited include An Invitation to Poetry (W. W. Norton & Company, 2004); Poems to Read (2002); and Handbook of Heartbreak (1998).

His honors include an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, both the William Carlos Williams Award and the Shelley Memorial prize from the Poetry Society of America, the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, and a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. He is currently poetry editor of the weekly Internet magazine Slate.

Pinsky has taught at both Wellesley College and the University of California, Berkeley, and currently teaches in the graduate writing program at Boston University. He served as a Chancellor for The Academy of American Poets. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
This biography came from poets.org.

See more resources on Robert Pinsky.

Events at Berklee:

  • Tuesday, April 10, 4:00pm-5:50am - TBA
  • Thursday, April 12, 9:00am-10:50am - TBA
  • Friday, April 13, 9:00am-10:50am - TBA