Friday, May 15, 2009

Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins

This is good advice to anyone just starting to read poetry. And if you've ever been in a poetry workshop, you know what Collins is talking about in the last two stanzas.


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.



Billy Collins was born in New York City in 1941. He served as the Poet Laureate in 2001 and is the author of several books of poetry.

24 Comments:

Blogger J.J. said...

Hahaha, I am so poetically challenged it's unreal... so I especially appreciate this.

1:56 AM  
Blogger Poetgrrl said...

Yes! Good one! (sad but true)

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Harry R. Sohl said...

The dancer Isadora Duncan famously said (about dance), "If I could tell you what it meant, there would be no point in dancing it."

11:51 AM  
Blogger Orange said...

I love Billy Collins...

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Blogger gmoke said...

Sounds like a good reason not to go to poetry workshops.

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Blogger Cold Canuck said...

Well put! and Gmoke -> I agree!

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Blogger Food, she thought. said...

Billy Collins is my favorite.

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Anonymous Beth Partin said...

I'm certainly guilty of beating my poems to death...or at least cutting them to death until I get desperate and go look at the first draft again.

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Blogger ginger said...

oh, i've been gone for a few weeks due to technical difficulties...i'm glad i decided to catch up so i didn't miss this.

thanks, i always appreciate some stuff from billy, my favorite. ;)

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