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Billy Collins by Catherine Gilligan

A biography and analysis of the life and poetry of former US poet laureate, Billy Collins
by

Catherine Gilligan

on 28 March 2011

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Transcript of Billy Collins by Catherine Gilligan

Still has a beautiful command of language The Life of Billy Collins Influences and Inspiration Favorite Poem Introduction to Poetry I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means. Collins Billy Education/Career: Born March 22, 1941 in NYC Attended Catholic school Wrote his first poem at age 12 Attended College of the Holy Cross in MA - BA in 1963 Received PhD in romantic poetry from UC Riverside in 1971 Began teaching English at Lehman College in NYC Works of Poetry: 6 major works of poetry has sold over 100,000 copies Questions about Angels was selected for the National Poetry Series in 1991 Hurray for NPR! Most Recent: Ballistics - 2008 First: Pokerface - 1977 Most popular: Sailing Alone around the Room His dad brought home Poetry magazine when Billy was a kid Stevens, Kerouac, Ginsberg & Coleridge Naming influences "would be paralyzing" Enjoyed contemporary poetry - tired of "extremely dead guys" Accomplishments New York
Public Library
"Literary Lion" 3 appearances
in The Best
American Poetry anthology Poet of the Year
1994 Mark Twain Prize
for humor
2005 US Poet Laureate
2 years Numerous
fellowships
i.e. NY Foundation
for the Arts Poet Laureate Reign 2001-2003 Aimed to encourage an interest in poetry,

especially for high school students Drew influence from modern teenagers which

was reflected in his poetry Launched the website Poetry 180

http://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/ Filled with mostly contemporary poems Library of Congress Mostly influenced by everyday events average, middle-class America Wrote at home, "often about home" I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means. Introduction to Poetry I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means. Poetry Analysis Poems epitomize relatable, conversational and humorous No meter, rhyme or complicated language "as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones."
(Forgetfulness) Consistent element
of humor "Reading an Anthology of Chinese Poems of the Sung Dynasty, I Pause to Admire the Length and Clarity of their Titles" "In mentioning the simple array of things around us, I am trying to evoke a kind of haiku-like presentation of the world in an unadorned condition, without the enhancing lift of metaphor." - Billy Collins References by Catherine Gilligan Accessible, simple, witty and direct, the contemporary poetry of Billy Collins, former U.S. Poet Laureate, focuses less on style and more on the audience he enraptures with beautifully, yet simply written verse about quotidian matters. Collins’ tendency to avoid rhyme scheme, meter and style devices allows for a consistently conversational tone in his attempts to appeal to those lacking an appreciation for poetry. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? "I am tired of reading poems that seem to ignore the reader" "and cover the pages with tiny sentences
like long rows of devoted ants"
(Advice to Writers)
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