Thursday, April 19, 2007

National Poetry Month & Billy Collins


It's not everyday a world renowned poet, a former U.S. Poet Laureate, and the author of the poem you read at your Mom's funeral comes to your hometown. So I just had to go see Billy Collins (via poets.org, bigsnap.com, bestcigarette.us) when he came to Woodstock today.

We didn't know he was coming until a few days after Mom's funeral. So I immediately contacted the Woodstock Opera House for tickets and learned they were sold out. That was disappointing. But I talked to a friend and Opera House employee about it and he called the next day with the news that some tickets opened up. We picked up two.

This morning we dropped off the two youngest at a friend's house and went to see Billy Collins. He read poems for about an hour: a sonnet or two, a handful of haiku, and the rest his typical, informal-style poetry. He was funny, thoughtful, and engaging. The crowd clapped and laughed, and even gasped at insightful lines. It was brilliant, just brilliant. I think if anyone who doesn't like poetry will go hear Billy Collins read his stuff will end up appreciating it.

I have three of his books and wanted them signed, so I got in line and met Billy Collins. I told him I read "The Lanyard" at my Mom's funeral. And guess what? A woman sitting with him helping him with the signing knew of this blog and had already mentioned it to Billy. Pretty cool, eh? He was very personable and showed real concern after I mentioned my Mom. He asked how well I got through the poem, you know, without crying. I told him I did fine. So then he signed my three books, including just above "The Lanyard" poem, and then we posed for a photo (via my hot wife). He said the photo would probably end up on the blog. He was right.

I think Billy Collins has become my favorite living poet. Watch his animated poetry (a very cool idea), buy his books at Read Between the Lynes, listen to his live readings, or attend a live reading. Here's a big archive of Billy reading poems. I think you may just learn to love poetry, or love it even more.

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