Celebrating Big Ideas and the Poetry in All of Our Lives

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This week’s edition of the Slate Culture Gabfest podcast recorded live in Boston had something for everyone: a review of Michael Keaton’s dark new movie Birdman, the horror of the “sexiest [X] alive” magazine profile (why won’t it die?), poet Robert Pinsky — and Bill Moyers. If you’re not familiar with Slate’s award-winning podcast, the weekly downloadable audio conversation covers arts and culture and features special guests, like the former poet laureate.

Near the end of the show, the Gabfesters offer “endorsements” of cultural items of interest. For this week’s live show, Slate’s film critic Dana Stevens endorsed Bill’s recent interview with Marilynne Robinson and had this to say:

“Bill Moyers is a national treasure. He is a beloved journalist. He’s 80 years old now and after multiple exits from TV and faux retirements, he still has a half-hour show on PBS. It’s called Moyers & Company. It’s just half an hour long. And I’ve always said this about Bill Moyers — in fact I think I talked about this after Maurice Sendak died and we did a segment on him — I said that the best interview that I’d seen with him, and really the best interviews with any artist that I’ve ever seen was an interview that [Sendak] did with Bill Moyers.

There’s something about when he speaks to someone who’s really a great artist, somebody who really has that kind of stature and has that kind of relationship to their work. He can get some amazing things out of them.

And his last interview was with Marilynne Robinson, the novelist who just came out with a new novel, Lila, the third in a trilogy that she’s written. And it’s sort of a big deal that Marilynne Robinson wrote a novel. She’s not very prolific, has gotten more so in recent years. But it’s really great to have her come out of the woodwork and have this conversation with Bill Moyers.

And it’s a wonderful conversation — It just feels like she’s dispensing wisdom; you know, she’s just sort of strewing wisdom, truth and beauty before the viewer. So I really recommend Bill Moyers interview with Marilynne Robinson.”

You can, of course, watch that interview right here on BillMoyers.com.

And while we’re in the endorsing mood, just before Stevens’s lovely comments about Moyers & Company, Robert Pinksy discussed two online projects he’s involved with that we think you should know about. The first is the “Favorite Poems” project which records regular people reading their favorite poems and talking about why they are meaningful to them. Here are some of his favorites:



If you like poetry, you might also be interested in the free online class — called a MOOC — that Pinsky is currently teaching at Boston University. “The Art of Poetry” is in its 3rd week and has over 6,000! participating students.

Here’s Bill’s 1999 interview with former US poet laureate Robert Pinksy:

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