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Edward Granger-Happ/SSC-HPMD
11/11 08:45 PM


Billy Collins at Sacred Heart University


Poetry Readings
WSHU Public Radio
“Join the Conversation”
With Billy Collins

Billy Collins read his poetry at Sacred Heart University on Sunday, November 11. David Bouchier of NPR's Sunday Matinee gave an eloquent intro comparing Collins to Philip Larkin, albeit the "happy" version. Billy read a half-dozen poems from his latest book, The Trouble With Poetry, some older and some newer poems. During the question and answer time, Billy spoke about the craft of poetry, finding your voice and learning of the Poet Laureate selection.

Here are some selected quotes:

"The best advice for young poets is to read voraciously, find poets with whom you resonate, then imitate them."

"I was insanely jealous when I read John Donne's The Flea in High School. I wanted to white out his name and write mine in its place."

Seamus Heaney's The Digging speaks of the poets calling.

"Originality is combining influences in a way that you can no longer teases the individual ones out."

Walt Whitman broke with the tradition of both meter and rhyme. "You can remove both training wheels and it's still poetry; it moves beyond poetry."
What's lost is a "trust system" --expecting the meter and rhyme, like anticipating the end of a poem.

"I pay a lot of attention to the music and cadence in my poems."

"I don't write every day. I don't have any work habits."

"Mornings are best for writing poems, before the noise of the world enters. Students make the mistake of writing at night, when it's dark out, with just a desk lamp. That can be dangerous. Daylight helps."

"A poem is a pathway to its ending; it's the only way to its end."

Billy Collins will be reading his work on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, on Saturday November 24, on Thanksgiving weekend. We'll be tuning in.

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