Billy Collins – An Inspiration

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Recently, I wandered unto the Poetry Foundation’s site and stumbled upon this poem by Billy Collins. Several books of this American poet are sitting on my book table as I write this. I do believe I should take some time as soon as possible to immerse myself in his works if I can expect more like what I’m about to share with you.

What impressed me the most were the multiple layers. I could read through it once and see Collins speaking to readers on what to visualize; then, in the second read through, it struck me that he was also talking to writers and poets on how to be open to inspiration. He not only interjected humor into it like a professional comedian, but you could see he was authoritatively guiding a student’s mind as a teacher as well. Written with such ease but yet it was interweaving the subject matter like a piece of M.C. Escher art. I found this piece amazing. It left me with a smile on my face and sighing loudly. And hoping that I might one day write so well.

May this piece hit home for you as much as it did me. 

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Image credit – Steven Kovich

Introduction to Poetry
by Billy Collins

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, “Introduction to Poetry” from The Apple that Astonished Paris. Copyright � 1988, 1996 by Billy Collins. Reprinted with the permission of the University of Arkansas Press. Source: The Apple that Astonished Paris (University of Arkansas Press, 1996)

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