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February 24, 2007


Rebecca Reid

It's inspiring that he never wrote a book until his 40s. and I agree with the previous commenter that it's wonderful to be able to see the influence of the books he read as a child. I, too, can relate to the adolescent urge to write poems. Mine didn't develop into anything further, however!

Very awesome that you could interview him. I understand the "star-struck" feeling. I'd have been the same!

Bluestalking Reader

Syzgy, I tried replying to your comment earlier, from Panera, but for some reason I'm always in a black hole at that place. It makes commenting impossible, go figure.

Anyway, thanks so much for telling me about the CD. I put in an interlibrary loan request for it, and it turns out two libraries in our system actually have it, and one loans it. Wahoo! I didn't know about that one, though I'd heard about The Best Cigarette.

If Mr. Collins does wind up signing books when he's in Woodstock I'll definitely have on of his new books on hand for him to sign. I'm not sure he's doing that, though. We'll see, and I certainly hope so.


You should get Billy's newest book, The Trouble With Poetry. He has some really great poems in there.

When Billy came to my town, I was afraid I wasn't going to get to get close enough to say hi to him, either, but I did. He's very kind and thoughtful to people in the signing line.

Oh! Also, you should get Billy Collins Live at Peter Norton Symphony Space, a CD of him reading his poems. His friend Bill Murray (the actor) did the intro. I don't think Billy's first CD, The Best Cigarette, is available anymore.

Billy Collins is a national treasure. Truly!

Bluestalking Reader

Iliana, so glad you enjoyed reading the interview. I'm still working my way through is poetry, too. I've been reading 'Nine Horses' and 'Sailing Alone Around the Room.' I can't wait to go see him in April, but I probably won't be able to actually get near him, unfortunately. If I can I'll sneak a photo (I'm thinking photography isn't allowed at the Woodstock Opera House), but it'll be great just to hear him speaking.


Thank you so much for this! I'm a huge fan of his poetry but didn't know that much about him. I was just reading some of his poems the other day and think I'll have to read another tonight.

Bluestalking Reader

Andi, I agree completely. It's tougher than it looks to produce something that's easy to understand yet richly layered. That he produces his poems right the first time is a result of decades of learning the craft. His critics are so off-base saying he's too simple.

The current Poet Laureate, Donald Hall, is similar to Billy Collins in style. He has that great sense of humor, too, and he writes a lot about everyday, accessible sorts of themes. Anyone who enjoys Collins should also give Hall a try. I bought his latest collection, which is a selection going back to the beginning of his career. It contains a CD featuring him reading selections, and that's just priceless. He seems like a true character.


I'm just in love with so many things he said in this interview. But, I guess what strikes me most is his contention that one can write in a way that is readable and not sacrifice the mystery. That's one of the qualities of his work that I adore and admire. There's real magic in being able to astound without muddying the water with pretentious tricks.

Bluestalking Reader

Jenclair, isn't he wonderful? I'm so star-struck it's pathetic. I'm still so hopped up from talking to a Poet Laureate. I even have a message from my answering machine from him I hope never to erase. It's like when Davy Jones kissed Marcia Brady and she didn't ever want to wash her cheek!

Yes, it's that pathetic.


Excellent interview! I especially like Collins' remark about the influence of Mother Goose. Also interesting is his lack of work habits and remarks that "the poem will come along when it arrives" and his being "on the lookout for creative opportunities."

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  • Writer and book reviewer, editor, columnist, blogger, author interviewer and book event roadie. I read. I write. I take pictures. And I am a librarian.

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    • Lisa's books

      The Graveyard Book
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      The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
      Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language
      Vanessa and Virginia
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