Honorary Degree Citation:
In your poetry, you offer us the universe through the particularity
of your perception by expressing what you call "the grandiosity
of the provincial." Speaking your poems, you show us
the beauty and power we can grasp by approaching the details
of our daily lives with the same sense of curiosity and adventure
as Hermes gazing upon a "terrarium of dreams and wonders."
You take your creative charge from the Greek roots of the word "poet," as "one who makes." You build your poems as structures for each of us to enter and interpret and carry something away for the experience, whether the subject is September 11th, sweatshop laborers or the sounds of your hometown.
You champion the individual as the cornerstone of democracy, putting forth poetry as a means of individual expression in an age of mass conformity. As this country's poet laureate you created and promoted the Favorite Poem Project, in which thousands of Americans each chose, read and chronicled a favorite poem, thus collectively celebrating their individuality. For several years you read poems-your own and those of others-on the Newshour with Jim Lehrer, reaching millions with the message that poetry today is more relevant than ever.
Your body of work is as impressive in its variety as in its quality. In addition to your award-winning collections of poetry, you created a computerized, interactive novel in 1985, at the dawn of the age of the PC. While innovating the craft, you also revived the old masters for a new age, writing what is considered the most accessible translation of Danté's Inferno in our language.
You have brought poetry to the people, offering us not just a way to look at the world, but a way to live in the world. For that we are grateful to you.
Robert Pinsky, we are pleased to confer upon you the degree:
Doctor of Letters, Honorary