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Born in March 22, 1941 / United States / English

Quotes by Billy Collins

Listeners are kind of ambushed... if a poem just happens to be said when they're listening to the radio. The listener doesn't have time to deploy what I call their 'poetry deflector shields' that were installed in high school - there's little time to resist the poem.
Poetry is my cheap means of transportation. By the end of the poem the reader should be in a different place from where he started. I would like him to be slightly disoriented at the end, like I drove him outside of town at night and dropped him off in a cornfield.
I'm trying to write poems that involve beginning at a known place, and ending up at a slightly different place. I'm trying to take a little journey from one place to another, and it's usually from a realistic place, to a place in the imagination.
I think my poems are slightly underrated by the word 'accessible.'
I write with a Uni-Ball Onyx Micropoint on nine-by-seven bound notebooks made by a Canadian company called Blueline. After I do a few drafts, I type up the poem on a Macintosh G3 and then send it out the door.
I think what gets a poem going is an initiating line. Sometimes a first line will occur, and it goes nowhere; but other times - and this, I think, is a sense you develop - I can tell that the line wants to continue. If it does, I can feel a sense of momentum - the poem finds a reason for continuing.
Often people, when they're confronted with a poem, it's like someone who keep saying 'what is the meaning of this? What is the meaning of this?' And that dulls us to the other pleasures poetry offers.
Humor, for me, is really a gate of departure. It's a way of enticing a reader into a poem so that less funny things can take place later. It really is not an end in itself, but a means to an end.
The poem is not, as someone put it, deflective of entry. But the real question is, 'What happens to the reader once he or she gets inside the poem?' That's the real question for me, is getting the reader into the poem and then taking the reader somewhere, because I think of poetry as a kind of form of travel writing.
Radio is such a perfect medium for the transmission of poetry, primarily because there just is the voice, there's no visual distraction.
The pen is an instrument of discovery rather than just a recording implement. If you write a letter of resignation or something with an agenda, you're simply using a pen to record what you have thought out.
The first line is the DNA of the poem; the rest of the poem is constructed out of that first line. A lot of it has to do with tone because tone is the key signature for the poem. The basis of trust for a reader used to be meter and end-rhyme.
I never said I had no idea about most of the things you said I said I had no idea about.
If Rosa Parks had taken a poll before she sat down in the bus in Montgomery, she'd still be standing.