Billy Collins

Particularly when I thought of myself as a Wallace Stevens acolyte, I wrote very difficult poetry and I was really guilty of not knowing what I was talking about. I was going for a kind of clever verbal effect. I was trying to sound linguistically or verbally interesting. I had a sense, I guess, from just reading a lot of poetry of how a poem would start and how it would end but really I didn’t know what I was doing. It had very little connection to my life.

“Particularly when I thought of myself as a Wallace Stevens acolyte, I wrote very difficult poetry and I was really guilty of not knowing what … Read More

I felt at some point that I had nothing to lose, and [laughs] maybe I was wrong. I think, you know, there’s always these little autobiographical secrets behind things. I think I was really attacking my earlier self, and this kind of pretentious figure.

“I felt at some point that I had nothing to lose, and [laughs] maybe I was wrong. I think, you know, there’s always these little … Read More

I just think that the world of workshops – I’ve written a poem that is a parody of workshop talk, I’ve written a poem that is a kind of parody of a garrulous poet at a poetry reading who spends an inordinate amount of time explaining the poem before reading it, I’ve written a number of satirical poems about other poets.

“I just think that the world of workshops – I’ve written a poem that is a parody of workshop talk, I’ve written a poem that … Read More

Now I would say at any given moment in American life, there are probably 45 poets in airplanes vectoring across the country heading towards…I don’t know if anyone’s reading it, but poets are still flying around the country going from lectern to lectern.That circuitry has become very well-established.

“Now I would say at any given moment in American life, there are probably 45 poets in airplanes vectoring across the country heading towards…I don’t … Read More

You know how sometimes you just have a memory of looking up and seeing a face looking over your crib and then remember nothing until tenth grade? – I have one of these early memories where I’m in the back of my parents’ car, a place I loved to spend a lot of time as an only child, not having to fight with venomous siblings over the only toy.

“You know how sometimes you just have a memory of looking up and seeing a face looking over your crib and then remember nothing until … Read More

And strangely enoughthe only emotion I ever feel, is what the beaver must feel, as he bears each stick to his hidden construction, which creates the tranquil pond and gives the mallards somewhere to paddle, and the pair of swans a place to conceal their young

“And strangely enoughthe only emotion I ever feel, is what the beaver must feel, as he bears each stick to his hidden construction, which creates … Read More

There’s this pet phrase about writing that is bandied around particularly in workshops about “finding your own voice as a poet”, which I suppose means that you come out from under the direct influence of other poets and have perhaps found a way to combine those influences so that it appears to be your own voice.

“There’s this pet phrase about writing that is bandied around particularly in workshops about “finding your own voice as a poet”, which I suppose means … Read More

I try to presume that no one is interested in me. And I think experience bears that out. No one’s interested in the experiences of a stranger – let’s put it that way. And then you have difficulty combined with presumptuousness, which is the most dire trouble with poetry.

“I try to presume that no one is interested in me. And I think experience bears that out. No one’s interested in the experiences of … Read More

Every Day Is for the Thief is a vivid, episodic evocation of the truism that you can’t go home again; but that doesn’t mean you’re not free to try. A return to his native Nigeria plunges Cole’s charming narrator into a tempest of chaos, contradiction, and kinship in a place both endearingly familiar and unnervingly strange. The result is a tale that engages and disturbs.

“Every Day Is for the Thief is a vivid, episodic evocation of the truism that you can’t go home again; but that doesn’t mean you’re … Read More

There are just long gaps where I can’t find a point of insertion, I can’t find a good opening line, I can’t find a mood that I want to write into. But once I do, once a line falls out of the air, or I get a little inkling of a subject and I recognize that, it’s like the sense that a game has started.

“There are just long gaps where I can’t find a point of insertion, I can’t find a good opening line, I can’t find a mood … Read More