Definition

One must make a distinction however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not poetry, nor till the autocrats among us can be “literalists of the imagination”—above insolence and triviality and can present for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them, shall we have it.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Accessible Poetry

"If you find yourself as a writer thinking about posterity you should probably go out for a brisk walk or something."  Billy Collins


If you find yourself as a writer thinking about posterity you should probably go out for a brisk walk or something.



Shop & Support Poets.org



Emily Dickinson Necklace


The perfect accessory for the fashionable poetry lover, this necklace features the opening lines of Emily Dickinson's classic poem #1741.


$80.00 | More Info

View All Store Items




 2
 1
StumbleUpon0
Google +1
Reddit0
 1
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19796#sthash.b9HgpCJH.dpuf
If you find yourself as a writer thinking about posterity you should probably go out for a brisk walk or something.



Shop & Support Poets.org



Iambic Pentameter T-Shirt

This exclusive blue-on-black t-shirt features scansion marks and a quote from Wallace Stevens.

$15.00 | More Info

View All Store Items




 2
 1
StumbleUpon0
Google +1
Reddit0
 1
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19796#sthash.AH0udThR.dpuf
If you find yourself as a writer thinking about posterity you should probably go out for a brisk walk or something.



Shop & Support Poets.org



Iambic Pentameter T-Shirt

This exclusive blue-on-black t-shirt features scansion marks and a quote from Wallace Stevens.

$15.00 | More Info

View All Store Items




 2
 1
StumbleUpon0
Google +1
Reddit0
 1
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19796#sthash.AH0udThR.dpuf

Greetings to my knot of fellow Toads!

I'm lolamouse and I've crawled out of my mouse hole to introduce you (or reintroduce you if you’re already familiar) with the poetry of Billy Collins. Billy Collins (1941- ) was the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2001 – 2003. The New York Times called Collins “the most popular poet in America.”

Collins believes that poetry should be a part of everyday life. He introduced a school program called Poetry 180, an online poetry anthology for teachers to use with their students. It was named for the 180 days of the school year and for the 180 degree turn which Collins wants students to make toward poetry- listening rather than dissecting.

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’s poems are often deceptively simple. He uses common language and often writes about pedestrian life experiences. His tone is witty and welcoming. Collins may directly address the reader, an ambiguous figure whom he may have faced across the breakfast table with a bowl of cereal or held a door for at the bank. Despite his easy, conversational style, his poems often take a surprising turn and address difficult and profound topics.  

Take, for example, this stanza from The Art of Drowning (1995)

…Survivors would have us believe in a brilliance
here, some bolt of truth forking across the water,
an ultimate Light before all the lights go out,
dawning on you with all its megalithic tonnage.
But if something does flash before your eyes
as you go under, it will probably be a fish…

Collins has written over a dozen books of poetry, including The Trouble With Poetry, Nine Horses, and Horoscopes for the Dead.

Every morning since you disappeared for good,
I read about you in the newspaper
along with the box scores, the weather, and all the bad news.
Some days I am reminded that today
will not be a wildly romantic time for you...
(from Horoscopes for the Dead, 2011)

To read and hear more Billy Collins, check out the Poetry Foundation website, Poets.org, and this TED talk below.



And now (finally!) the challenge:

Write a poem of the ordinary but give it a Collins-ish twist. That is, write something accessible, simple, funny, etc. but when read (maybe a second time) shows us something about the experience of life in a more profound way. Or, if that doesn’t float your boat, choose one of Collins's poems and write a response to it.

21 comments:

Kerry O'Connor said...

I'm very excited about this prompt, LM. I love Billy Collins' style - it is deceptively simple, but try writing like that.

aprille said...

Thank you Miss Mouse, for making me go back to this poet whom I only 'met' last week. I took a look at the poem I used then and wrote an additional 'ninette' to complement last week's 'dizain', which should add up to 19 :-)

Grace said...

Thank you for introducing his work with us LM ~ I enjoyed the link and his poems very much ~

Other Mary said...

Love BC, the quote and the challenge! I'll be back - thanks! :o)

Adura Ojo said...

This really is how poetry should be. Deceptively simple and deep at the same time. Thanks for sharing Billy Collins.

Ella said...

Fun...I love his turnabout style :D
Thank you!

Helen said...

Thank you .. thank you for the video! Enchanting poetry, enchanting man.

Lolamouse said...

Hi Everyone!

Glad you're enjoying the work of Billy Collins. He seems like he'd be such a great guy to meet in person!

I'll be checking in throughout the weekend to read your poems. I'm so happy to see some already!

Have a great weekend!

Ellecee said...

I really enjoy the poetry of Billy Collins. The video was great to see. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. I find this challenge a tad daunting but have given it a shot,,,,

Kay L. Davies said...

Amazing man, the way he speaks of something simple and everyday, then zaps us with a line that knocks us to the floor in awe and admiration.
This won't be easy. But I've got three of his poems to re-read throughout the day.
Thanks, Ms Mouse!
K

ThePeSla said...

Hi,

I saw your site because of the poet Dave King whom I follow... So I will try this... It strikes me as one of the core methods of poetry, only a little more streamlined than the method of repeating lines with two common things that makes the Bible sound as poetry...

A very interesting site!

Emma Major said...

I really don't like his style, I admire it but.mostly the poetry doesn't speak to me, however I.did find one that did touch inspiration and I've responded although in my.own style

Kerry O'Connor said...

ThePeSla, Could you please link the specific post you want us to read and not your blog home page? Once you have corrected this, I will remove your first link which takes us to a post entitled Tritangles. It is also customary to provide a link back to Real Toads on your blog.

Susie Clevenger said...

What a wonderful prompt. I am not sure I accomplished it, but I needed to write. So sorry to have been absent so long. My mother-in-law passed away. There is much I need to write out of me. Thank goodness for poetry.

Kerry O'Connor said...

I am very sorry to hear of your loss, Susie. The loss of a mother is never easy, so my thoughts are with your husband at this time.

Ella said...

Yes, sorry Susie, for your loss~
@>----------


Thank you Miss Mouse-I enjoyed this unique poetic view-very much ;D

Marian said...

hugs to Susie!
i love Billy Collins and feel like i've long been inspired by his style, though i'm not sure this (or any of my writing) is a great example. :)
thanks for the lovely prompt, Lolamouse!
we are just finished up cleaning after a birthday party, whew! i'll be around to catch up on a quantity of Toad writing later. xoxoxo

Connie Smiley said...

Thanks for the introduction to this wonderful poet!

Hannah said...

Phenomenal poet!! If he doesn't inspire?!! Thank you!

sharplittlepencil.com said...

Lolamouse, thanks for this post about Billy Collins. He certainly finds humor in unexpected places. The line about this students beating the poem with a hose... too funny.

Thanks also for the prompt. Hope I did something worthy of this challenge! Amy

Margaret said...

I hope to submit Monday My in-laws are visiting. Loved this poets humor.