Robert Pinsky speaks at Marlboro commencement

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(Host) Three-time poet laureate Robert Pinsky was the commencement speaker at Marlboro College this weekend.

Pinsky is known for his efforts to re-connect the general public with poetry. He was the initiator of the Famous Poems project,’ in which Americans from all walks of life shared their favorite poems.

In a speech interspersed with poetry, Pinsky sang the praises of difficulty.

(Pinsky ) “People sometimes say to me: ‘ I find poetry difficult. It’s hard.’ The response I’ve evolved is: ‘That’s only one of the good things about it.’ What do human beings desire? I think more than pleasure, more than power, more than any other gratification, I submit to you that what we desire is difficulty. That’s why the video parlors are full of kids putting quarters in machines, why kids like their Gameboys, why people like their Xbox. That’s why, if someone makes a lot of money in this country and becomes very successful, sooner or later you find that person out in the grass with a stick, hitting a little white ball around – because it is difficult.”

(Host) Pinsky said our greatest heroes are not those who come up with solutions to difficult problems, but those who take the problems on.

He called discouragement a biological necessity’ that keeps humans dreaming up new ideas.

(Pinsky) “One of the most basic human processes is the process of dissatisfaction discouragement, despair and then the pleasure of not of overcoming it, but of dealing with them. Seeing something wrong or amiss or mystifying or attractive or fascinating, and engaging it, working to figure it out. And if you ever figured it out absolutely, it would become tic-tac-toe and you would go on to something else.”

His wish for the seventy-one liberal arts graduates was that they find worthy difficulties to pursue.

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