Looking for something to do on Sunday before the Super Bowl? How about a free, one-hour visit with one of the nation’s leading poets.
Frederick Reads is kicking off its annual series of events — this year focused on the theme of food and drink — with a visit by Robert Pinsky on Sunday, Feb. 3, at the Weinberg Center for the Arts.
Pinsky, who served as the country’s 39th poet laureate from 1997 to 2000, currently teaches at Boston University.
He also is poetry editor for the online magazine, Slate.
In addition, Pinsky is a translator, as well as a creator, of verse, having recently translated Dante’s epic poem “Inferno” about a visit to hell. The first part of Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” it was written in Italy in the 1300s.
“I tried to make it musical and a good read — also fast, as Dante is fast,” wrote Pinsky in an email.
“Whatever else is good or bad about my translation, I use fewer words than any other English version, in prose or verse,” he said.
Pinsky also has written a play, an adaptation of “Wallenstein” about a famous German general during the 30 Years War by German poet and playwright Friedrich Schiller.
The play is in rehearsal at the Shakespeare Theater in Washington, D.C., and expected to open in late March.
The theme for Frederick Reads this year is “Food for Thought,” said Elizabeth Cromwell, who chairs the series of events and is also Manager of Corporate and Community Partnerships for Frederick County Public Libraries.
Made up of various organizations, Frederick Reads began bringing authors to the city eight years ago. For the last five years, the group has presented a poetry reading on Super Bowl Sunday.
“I think Robert Pinsky is one of America’s best poetry ambassadors,” said John Holly, who hosts a poetry gathering at The Frederick Coffee Co. in downtown Frederick’s Shab Row every other Thursday.
“We read our own or other people’s poetry, or people can just listen,” he said.
“I think we’re very lucky to have a group like Frederick Reads getting a poet like Robert Pinsky to come,” Holly said.
One of the food-related poems Pinsky plans to read is by Robert Herrick, an English poet of the 1600s, who penned the phrase. “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.”
A man who enjoyed life, Herrick wanted people to read his poems after having been “well drunk and fed” and “when the hearth ... gilds the roof with mirth.”
Pinsky also will be signing some of his books, including his latest, “Selected Poems,” after the free, one-hour talk, Cromwell said.
One of the jobs of American poet laureates — the official title is Poet Laureate Consultant to the Library of Congress — is to foster the reading and writing of poetry.
Soon after his appointment, Pinsky started the “Favorite Poem Project.” which collected poems sent in by 18,000 Americans and grouped some of them into three books.
“In the anthologies, which have been very popular, each poem is accompanied by quotations from readers — not poets or professors or critics, just people who love these poems,” Pinsky said.
The project also videotaped Americans reading their favorite poems, which can be seen on its website, favoritepoem.org.
The Favorite Poem Project teams with the Boston University School of Education to host a summer workshop for teachers, grades K through 12. This year it will run from July 15-19, and the deadline for applying is June 15.
Pinsky’s visit is only the first of more events to come, Cromwell said.
The kickoff typically spurs other local organizations, such as art galleries, theaters and restaurants, to also develop events and activities. This year, considering the food theme, groups are likely to include 4-H clubs and community gardens.
“They create their own programs and events and book clubs, and they all come at topics from different directions,” Cromwell said.
Frederick Reads will wrap up on April 11 with a visit by Will Allen, author of “The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People and Communities.”
Allen, who grew up in Montgomery County and went to Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, now lives in Milwaukee and teaches people how to grow food in urban environments.
“He writes about black rural farms disappearing and at-risk youth having no connection to the land or healthy food,” Cromwell said.