Robert Pinsky founded the Favorite Poem Project shortly after the Library of Congress appointed him the thirty-ninth Poet Laureate of the United States in 1997. What first began as an initiative to create an audio and visual archive of 1,000 Americans reading aloud their favorite poems has since yielded three anthologies and a collection of fifty short video documentaries showcasing individual Americans--from politicians to waitresses--reading and speaking about the poems they love.

In partnership with Boston University, the Poetry Society of America, and the Library of Congress, the project’s website,, offers a sampling of the chosen poems, as well as lesson plans for developing poetry curricula and tips for organizing local Favorite Poem readings. "One thing I hope is that the project will have some effect on the teaching of poetry," explained Pinsky in an interview with The Writer magazine.

During the one-year open call for submissions, 18,000 Americans wrote to the project to share their favorite poems--people from ages five to ninety-seven, from every state, with all kinds of occupations and all levels of education. The project continues to accept favorite poem submissions online, which are added to an ever-growing database to be considered for future programs and recordings.