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Billy Collins

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 1 month ago

    Billy Collins




                                                  I was born on March 22, 1941 in New York City. I recieved my bachelor's degree in 1963 from College of the Holy Cross and then attended the University of California and recieved a doctorate degree. I am now a professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York. I was the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2001-2003 and then named New York State Poet Laureate from 2004-2006.









Books I've written:

    She was Just Seventeen (2006)

     The Trouble with Poetry (2005)

Nine Horses (2002)

Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems (2001)

Picnic, Lightning(1998)

The Art of Drowning (1995)

Qestions About Angels (1991)

The Apple that Astonished Paris (1988)

My Friends:


Jack Kerouac                                                                                                                                

Allen Ginsberg

Gregory Gorso

Thom Gunn

Ted Hughes

Philip Larkin                                                              

Chales Tomlinson

Samuel Taylor Coleridge                                                  

                                                                                                                                                                Sources Cited:

                                                                                                                                  "Billy Collins."  Poets.org.  Academy of American Poets 

                                                                                                                                    25 Oct. 2007



                                                                                                                                  Van de Kamp, Alexandra. "Felicitous Spaces." Terra Incognita

                                                                                                                                    Jan. 2001. 26 Oct. 2007                                        



                                                                                                                                     Picture: http://duckhenge.uoregon.edu/io/images/cache/750



                                                                                                                                    Poem: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/madmen/



I ask You

Numerous Recordings


by Billy Collins


They say you can jinx a poem

if you talk about it before it is done.

If you let it out too early, they warn,

your poem will fly away,

and this time they are absolutely right.


   Take the night I mentioned to you

I wanted to write about the madmen,

as the newspapers so blithely call them,

who attack art, not in reviews,

but with breadknives and hammers

in the quiet museums of Prague and Amsterdam.


   Actually, they are the real artists,

you said, spinning the ice in your glass.

The screwdriver is their brush.

The real vandals are the restorers,

you went on, slowly turning me upside-down,

the ones in the white doctor's smocks

who close the wound in the landscape,

and thus ruin the true art of the mad.


   I watched my poem fly down to the front

of the bar and hover there

until the next customer walked in—

then I watched it fly out the open door into the night

and sail away, I could only imagine,

over the dark tenements of the city.


   All I had wished to say

was that art was also short,                                                  

as a razor can teach with a slash or two,

that it only seems long compared to life,

but that night, I drove home alone

with nothing swinging in the cage of my heart

except the faint hope that I might

catch a glimpse of the thing

in the fan of my headlights,

maybe perched on a road sign or a street lamp,

poor unwritten bird, its wings folded,

staring down at me with tiny illuminated eyes.


 Ellyse's Interpretation:

I think this poem is about a lost idea for a poem. In the

beginning he was going to write about the people who

destroy art and how they were insane to do such a thing.

His friend says that the people who destroy art are not insane

and the vandalism is just how they see the art. He also talks about

how his idea was like a caged bird and when his friend shared his

point of view on the idea, the caged bird flew away into the night.

I think that one of the meanings of this poem is that a discussion

or debate will make you question your true beliefs as Collins' caged bird

flew from his heart to the dark tenements of the city.  Another point

that was made in this poem was, what is art? Is it in the eye of the beholder,

the mind of the creator, or the mind of the vandal?

 This page was created by Ellyse

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