Thursday, April 21, 2011
Poem #21 -- Overheard
WHAT BILLY COLLINS SAID AFTER THE POETRY READING LAST NIGHT
The reason there is so much bad poetry written
is that the tools of poetry are so accessible --
with pencil and paper anyone can write a poem,
unlike, say, playing the saxophone,
which requires the instrument and some lessons.
And who could just go out and start hacking
at a block of marble and make a sculpture on the first try?
The training for writing poetry is in the library.
And you find your voice by
being jealous of other poets.
By reading other poets.
You write poetry because of
an urge to emulate,
No copyright on these words, folks, because Billy Collins said them -- I just wrote them down. What he said about bad poetry...ouch. I feel like a poser with this "tra-la-la, I'll write a poem a day" project. And yet, what he said about reading poetry, and the urge to emulate...I do that! I have nearly every book of poetry he's published, plus one long and two short shelves of other poetry books (not to mention Amy LV's The Poem Farm, the weekly impromptu anthology known as Poetry Friday, and The Writer's Almanac).
Billy Collins has a new book of poetry, published just this month:
And now I have a whole new slew of favorite Collins poems, such as the five-liner that made the crowd burst into laughter, the one that riffs off a comment overheard in a restaurant ("I was like give me a break"), the one about having a hangover and listening to kids playing Marco Polo, the poem about memorizing a poem.