Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Blogday and Billy Collins

BillyBlog's 2-month Blogday came and went yesterday with little fanfare. Hurrah!

Speaking of Billy, last night I attended a book signing and reading at the lovely Barnes & Noble, Union Square. The guest of honor? Billy Collins, New York State Poet Laureate and former U.S. Poet Laureate.

I have a personal affection for Billy, as he was one of the poets responsible for my madcap obsession with The Best American Poetry anthology series. In the Fall of 1997, freshly Gothamized, I attended a Best American Poetry (BAP) reading at Borders, Park Avenue. Billy was one of four poets reading and they all signed my copy of that year's edition. Prior to that, the only signed anthology I owned was Grand Passion, an L.A. poetry anthology which I had found multi-signed at the Barnes & Noble in West L.A.

8 years later, I would argue that I have the finest BAP collection in the world. (Yes, I know, that's quite bold, but wait....). I have the entire run of the series, from 1988-2005, that's 18 volumes plus an extra '91 and two extra '92s and The Best of the Best American Poetry, so 22 volumes in all, all hardcover, all signed by multiple poets, some copies upward of 20-25 poets.
Don't believe me? See photo of my BAPs in the glass case.

Anyway, I could go two routes here. I usually give a detailed dispatch of readings, which can be a bit tedious, especially for those of you out there who are not poetry enthusiasts. I'm thinking. It's 6:18 AM and the brain doesn't like to work this early.........OK, I know what to do. I'll break the post into two pieces. Yippee. Problem solved. Now, I just have to write it.

Billy Collins is a rare egg, he's a funny poet. And I don't mean he is a funny guy, I mean his poems are funny. And accessible. They are not difficult. They are simple. And funny. For example, he read a poem called "Litany," one of his "greatest hits," so to speak. I've heard him read it before, and will no doubt hear it again. Sorry, can'
and ramitdownyourthroats:


"You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine..."
-Jacques Crickillon

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine.


to be continued.....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh, how I adore Billy Collins. I'll be attending a reading of his on Tuesday in Orlando, which I'm extremely excited about.