Happy Birthday, Billy Collins, born 22 March 1941
- The mind can be trained to relieve itself on paper.
- You come by your style by learning what to leave out. At first you tend to overwrite—embellishment instead of insight. You either continue to write puerile bilge, or you change. In the process of simplifying oneself, one often discovers the thing called voice.
- High School is the place where poetry goes to die.
- A sentence starts out like a lone traveller heading into a blizzard at midnight, tilting into the wind, one arm shielding his face, the tails of his thin coat flapping behind him.
- 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.
- 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.
- A motto I’ve adopted is, if at first you don’t succeed, hide all evidence that you ever tried.
Collins is an American poet, appointed as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003.
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