Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Billy Collins, Poet as Crack Dealer

I see you Billy Collins. Standing alone in your room. You, the plainest named of all poets.

I have been meaning to sit down with you. To chat. I know you dig jazz. But I've been busy. You understand. And there are writers with fancier clothes and shinier cars. And then I heard you called the "Oprah of poetry."

Dude. I'm a guy. I'm walking a tightrope of toughness with poetry as it is, which I've got to balance with bare-knuckle boxing, raw eggs with meals, and driving a Ford pick-up. I can't consort with any kind of Oprah, for crissakes!

So you sat. And I wasn't looking for you. Then I was exchanging some winter-inspired poems back and forth with folks and an old friend sends over, "Shoveling Snow with Buddha." And that opened the door.

Zen. In the momentness, clothed in the everyday. The infinite revealed in the mundane. Collins' pyrotechnics take place beneath and above simple words and form that ambles through the room with its feet slightly above the floor.

Damn you Billy Collins and your wry, easy smile, knowing you're peddling aesthetic and philosophical crack rock, inviting us in easily and then spinning the room like a bottle.

Have you seen the stack of books I've got going? I don't need another poet to read. And an oxy-moron like a "best-selling poet?" Nothing against best-sellers, I generally just try to find my own way, slightly off-center.

Well, if you can't beat 'em, to hell with it, I suppose. What time does Oprah come on?


Kelly said...

you're funny i just posted this mad hectic post and the label was god bless me madly and it is all blood and bones and floundering madness-of-poet-in-love-in-war-in-life and then clicked view post and first thing i see when it takes me to my blog's page is "The 4-1-Run I see you Billy Collins. Standing alone in the room..." & I crack up bc i just blogged about poetry staring at me from it's little cabin just up the hill.

We're funny and twisted and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Elizabeth Bastos said...

I love/hate/am jealous of Billy Collins humor, ease and deft self-depreceation...he's like that star high school friend that was always two steps ahead, but still was friends with you.

I say read him. Sometimes Oprah is right (like about silk pillowcases and Dr. Oz, although not Dr. Phil ;-)

You can't even see him working at it.

Michael Valliant said...

Thanks, Kelly, and I couldn't agree more! :)

Elizabeth - I actually wrote this after I had already snatched up a copy of Collins's "Sailing Alone Around the Room," and read quite a few poems online and in his book. My thoughts on him come from being quickly immersed and he continues to impress!

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