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liz from nashville studio way celebrating offers literature ideas for more than three decades this is word on words johnson doesn't involve welcome once again to word on words have the distinct pleasure welcome your highly accomplished writer to the show billy collins has been called most popular poet america by the new york times he served two terms as us poet laureate known as the new york state poet laureate the flame enjoys attractive heard of the world of contemporary portrait his readings regularly sellout he's a frequent guest on national public radio is poems are conversational witty and often profound observations of everyday life he is the author of nine collections of poetry including ballistics drowning that makes lighting well welcome welcome billy collins to world war ii thank you very much a flood of the hair nine books of poetry that's also virtually
unheard of in world port in world publishing in today's world of publishing porter is strikingly is largely over woody is that while your discerning senate poetry is donovan serve the poor little match girl the arts one indicator to me is always the new york times book review which are just about any novel will be reviewed but i'd say you have to go every six weeks maybe to find a book of poetry review very rare and then you think for it not for that at the sensitive it might not be there than it you go through the new yorker annals of applauding every week but you know unless you're eclectic readers was not much access to forgery own world which is changing though i'm old boy out and in elementary school but
i listened in today's meeting and they weren't where longfellow and the classics and what happened is a glad you brought that up by your early exposure to poetry because it is a deep childhood pleasure i mean i think all children are not just a natural poets but they're natural painters and dancers and musicians and you just have to give icann a harmonica this is good to do if you don't like the parents now software can put out some fingerprints or crayons or been told so what to do in just our drawing of a musical dance children love ryan's point in child development where they start to realize that the other summer sounds knowing which were different things and the child realizes that the end of the
thing that it uses to to eat cereal in the morning her son it sounds like that thing in the sky at night i spilled moon joined a lot of women's conferences whole new way to connect to reality but if something happens at leader we have a poetry is sort of beaten out of us by bad teaching sometimes also you know young people go into this tunnel called adolescence and i'm to the joy of surrealism that joy brought metaphors the playfulness of poetry all of that seems to get constricted into a ball of self consciousness and if you think about adolescence with your artistic abilities still intact your hippo you're worth a fortune on what you earn what was the magnet that they're doing just pulled you into poetry well you know i know you've interviewed john updike and he has a wonderful line in
one of his essays which also becoming a writer and he says that at that something didn't happen all the sudden obviously is that what happened was that he was quote swallowed by a hobby and for palau quotation from the irish poet patrick kavanagh he said you'd begin by fooling around with words and at some point it becomes your life and in both cases there is fooling around and hobbes and the words there's a kind of it's a side interest it begins as a kind of playfulness aside interest and then it tends to consume you if you keep keep after an end for me my mother and i recited knew hundreds of lines of poetry she learned as a schoolgirl and in rural canada and that she was born in nineteen oh one so when she was a schoolgirl memorization was a very legitimate respected way to convey poetry young people now astronomers were all fired up so she was not linger in an
issue would not stand up on the coffee table and have official recitation over sharer years of that but in her talk poetry would appear in two of the brain into her talk lives in shakespeare things should learn enough forty or fifty years ago some poetry and my house was a jew love very respected thing more legitimate part of the conversation i was very attracted to poetry as a kind of romantic thing to do i mean i remember seeing a picture of edgar allan poe an anthology and i was just it was like the first time i saw a picture of all the sermons and then there were soon to look like that you know my parents that look like they're on the people of their country club in liquid april and i thought this is it as a servant and a representative of some other world that i don't know about and i when i get into it as quickly as possible you know i bought a few years but i think of the irish poet and i'm here shows at
gets international exposition and i thought is that our show than we both will use of the cinema and we'd go out in the woods still parlor educational culture where children are but it strikes me that poetry is more appreciated and morton i thought foreman european countries the unknown and perhaps in an asian countries do well as if it's a sad fact that repressive garments produced good poetry i mean russia's a good example of three expressions for bid vanities art was doing and i'm not suggesting that we change the a first amendment all just to improve the level of our poetry or expression but that's a separate in the case of the irish it's very different i think i mean there are those are the wire the irish connected so intimately with poetry whether to answer as one of his
romantic answer which is false and that is that the irish and i'm irish american the irish have the gift of gab are some magical about leprechauns ability to express themselves and portrait the correct answer is historical i mean the reason the irish are so identify with poetry is because of six hundred years and colonization that in them the wherewithal to produce any other kinds of art has no irish shopper there's no iverson fall music you couldn't even find a cello to play if you're an irish of proportion painting is now are staging basically mean there's a few of the zone with the renaissance address well poetry is portable you can't take poetry away from people because memorize a billion you can carry in your heart and your hat so that's what you're left with when everything else has taken away the last art form you're left with so the reason the irish are so famous reporter is because of deprivation you know it's been a long time since anybody on the other side of our
cameras cynical on this program another we've got to hear it yeah i got it really captured you aren't allowed to have you read some for trio if you were so why don't we begin the hackers are very readable poem serves for alwan anyway i like poems well this is a sort of tricky title but the phone was called another reason why i don't keep a gun in the house the neighbor's dog will not stop barking is barking the same high rhythmic bartlett he barks every time they leave the house than most which a man on their way out the neighbor's dog will not stop farting i close all the windows in the house and put on a beethoven symphony full blast but i can still hear him muffled under the music barking barking barking and now i can see him sitting in the
orchestra his head race confidently as if beethoven had included a part of her barking dog when the records finally and so he is still working sitting there on the oboe section parking his eyes fixed on the conductor who isn't treating him with his baton while the other music musicians listen and respectful silence to the famous barking dog so low that analysts coda that first established beethoven as an innovative genius for now but are what title is important because it strikes me that that title of the golan on going and i was doing slightly of my cheek but there is but there's real meaning there to london and actually got complaints from humorless a number of
funerals the two cookies and they wanted actually shoot this dog where leaders of byron's an ironing board of iron deficiency is it c a i mean i like the longest letter titles of some titles are tricky one of my favorite titles in english literature as the poet thomas gray and call vote on the death oh a moment of a favorite cat drown in a tub of goldfish is that's the poem actually ends with the line all that glitters is not gold and he actually says all that glistens is not gold is the cat is attracted to the gold look at the fish and so i like very helpful titles like that i have a poem called i charred some parsley while listening to art blakey version of three blind mice that once you've put all that information the title you have to deal with in the first stanza and i don't the
set the stage you can throw all that exposed her age the stage setting a mood setting stephanie taylor the story is there it's there in the title and then in a viable form as a kind of i think as a kind of home that makes no sense without the title i have a two line palm or maybe for a conservatory and which makes no sense without the title and the title as divorce and divorce wants to spoons and at no time forks across the ground a table and the knives they have hired well well sleep and even just for common objects around the house and they portrayed him feel we talk about bout reaching young people and i dont in this portrait one ad is a collection of developed and it strikes me given the gift
that poetry can be for children this as do with what you think about when you put together forty one at well when i became poet laureate there's really not much to do as poet laureate it's a very short checklist of other duties but there is sort of a nightmare is an expectation that because one has the material and human resources of the entire library of congress at once disposal which is a pretty heady situation but one might do something more some initiative for an actual mission for poetry i immediately thought of high school we just a few minutes ago talked about how adolescents going off and shuts off your poetic stream or supplies you have these poetry deflector shields another you know that don allowing comes in and so i put them start a website with a hundred maybe pull ups one for every day of the school year and apparently in japan they would be called poetry to it in
forty three years there are more spoilers what has gone up on the web the website connected to wonder if congress with the encouragement that teachers have a poem read every day but with no analysis no discussion no no two page paper and no quizzes are still a question to just hear the palm and then they kicked the kids off to the next class justin experience a palm every day without having to respond to it because poetry becomes socially with anxiety and that is used in school the first thing that happens after you after college road is you're going to be interrogated about what it means or what it symbolizes so that seemed to catch on and i didn't realize i created new trough and now the horses have come to drink hundreds and hundreds of high school teachers have told me let themselves unable to grab the attention of otherwise we're resistance dunes to poetry and the reason is that the palms
here they're clear contemporary britain and often summoned to six months ago in the book was put out and you can get them on the first bounce beat him read them three or four times if you like but there's something accessible only tangible right away and then it turned into this book and there's a second book called more poetry one anymore so yes so it's not just for high school students now it's really it's an anthology for anyone who just hasn't read poetry in a while i was interested in finding out how poetry sounds today for those of you just joining us were talking to billy collins was reading also from his work it heavier and in one on one about reading morning half ok i can do that it's a little poem called morning it's just a reflection on that time of day
morning what we bother with the rest of the day this whale of the afternoon the sudden death in the evening the night with his notorious perfume says many pointed stars this is the best throwing off a light covers feed on the cold floor and buzzing around the house on espresso maybe a splash of water on the face of palm full of vitamins but mostly buzz around the house on espresso dictionary and that was open on the rug the typewriter waiting for the key of the head a cello on the radio and if necessary the windows trees fifty a hundred years old out there had the clothes on the way and along the steaming like a horse in the early morning i'm a morning person as a syllable answer questions about angels in this is fall morning
with questions about it because you know there isn't there also this book here's a questions about angels and the fans and it's a lovely title for a book and a lovely title for a poem and it raises questions that we all have well to start with one question one on some other ones questions about angels of all the questions you might want to ask about angels the only when you overhear somebody can dance on the head of a pin know curiosity about how they pass the eternal time besides circling the throne chanting in latin for delivery a crusty bread to her mother on earth or guiding a boy and girl across a rickety wooden bridge do they fly through god's body and come out singing to they swing like children from the hinges of the spirit world saying their names backwards and forwards to this alone will gardner's changing colors what about their sleeping habits the fabric of their
robes their diet of unfiltered divine light what goes on inside their luminous heads is there a wall all these tall presents is can look over and say hello if an angel fell off a cloud would he leave a whole and a river and would the whole flotilla long and mostly filled with a silent letters of every angelic word if an angel delivered the mail woody arrive in a blinding rush of wayne's where we just assume the appearance of the regular mail man and whistle up the driveway reading the postcards no the medieval theologians control this court the only question you ever hear is about the little dance floor on the head of a pin or halos are meant to converge and drift and visibly it is designed to make us think in millions and billions to make us run out of numbers and collapse into infinity but perhaps the answer is simply one one female angel dancing along in her stocking
feet a small jazz combo working in the background she sways like a branch in the winter beautiful eyes closed and the tall thin bassist leans over the glances watch because she has been dancing for ever and now is very late even for musicians but a secularized religion it does a really whew that's not that's not the depiction the angel said nothing from the nuns in oahu but she is unnamed a low point about the home and others as opposes that very punk very much about one of being composed how in the world and how you're going to get out of it you know how crucial in the spot where it was say any more and you know we're hearing more you know a point of if that resolution at
least a branch to land so i don't know where i was going with a foamy start with gentle assassin questions about angels a naked for up to a class of fourth graders what would you like to ask an angel of one appeared and then there's this one credit check and feared as much as the angel and the and she was the discovery of the poem i'm very fond of her you know i really like your eyes close in her stocking feet and that's jazz combo and so it will appoint a little italy for me to invent this is interesting jersey until the poem you're here to be on the phone that from public water which is becoming a great event flowing river in the midst of that once a year on but only reward say
you have been as i said the intervention for glory many people think the poet laureate is somehow designated by the united states government that and that's the truth now luckily the high note we'd have one of torture now the poet laureate there are two things to be clarified immediately about the poet laureate shared the first is that it has it has appointed one is appointed by the librarian of congress and he and i say he because we've never had a female librarian of congress he james billington right now are basically calls you up and says room for it it's a four a washington and inside the beltway decisions for unusual because there's no committee is no procedure it's a completely autocratic decision of the library of congress and he is charged by congress to fill that position and so the poet laureate is an
employee of the library of congress as the british authorities and member of the rural households and the second little thing to clarify is that the stipend which is fairly laws is from private private funds it's not government money so no tax dollars have been wasted but part of it i think that anybody who reads your portrait of our interview is the fourteenth in fort lauderdale soon come to an agreement for part that money is not wasted in his very well spent and i think the un and those who've gone before him cents million more than a few veterans of victories both in for mark on radar in allentown there's a third of them
were aware of wellhead the same more international public library i announced that i was going to sort of the same feeling that i had when i got the phone call from ally for congress which was there last week some stage i really thought i was going out of order when i when i was called by the library and when i got to my office which is a beautiful office in the jefferson killing of the in washington with a view of the capital over your shoulder another of the photographs of a previous poets laureate it on the wall all of which were looking down the robert frost robert penn warren at me saying not use what is he doing here so i felt very worthy and omar scope so fluid it is the next book soon be published and i know that but the reason they're called ghost
we have just time for another ok i'm really happy to read that the us a new book called horoscopes for the dead and will be out in the spring and there's a little promise for the thank you notes and to assure a preacher call called the guest i know the reason you placed nine white tulips and the last days with water here in this room a few days ago was not to mark the passage of time as a fish would have nailed by the tail to the wall above the bed of aghast but early this morning i did notice there lowered heads and the gray light two of them even touching the glass tabletop near the window the blossoms falling open as they lost their grip on themselves and my suitcase only have one packed by the door is this felix
you don't know how long as they feel that old thing about bailing the fish to her elizabeth is the son of the latest in the ship related portrayal about infusions of amazing was a major flu or age four top and then a warrant is just to listen outside of drifted away and the magazine sixty body armor and surrender from the agenda a little bit is it can you envision a poetry magazine catching on sustaining readership financial swan well there are several i mean there's the public poetry magazine itself which is the
oldest man is in the country in poetry a service or nineteen twelve by harriet monroe and that seems to be i say if you're gonna drop gonna go matt von that would be the answer the center of love pork publications of the country and there's a lot of bangs is out there i think probably too many innocents and i think third the fugitives had a kind of a static that kept that magazine together and informed and i suppose every magazine has a personality that the sensibility or taste of the editor but then i don't think there's another couple magazine where you have a group of major poets who have an ascetic philosophy and who have a publication that expresses that so it was quite a huge need unique event in american literature i am honored to have your very nice to there was so much for coming thank god there's a watching for word on words and
dancing dog reading
A Word on Words
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Billy Collins
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Nashville Public Television
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Talk About 9 Of His Books Of Poetry
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Chicago: “A Word on Words; 3921; Billy Collins,” 2010-00-00, Nashville Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 21, 2024,
MLA: “A Word on Words; 3921; Billy Collins.” 2010-00-00. Nashville Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 21, 2024. <>.
APA: A Word on Words; 3921; Billy Collins. Boston, MA: Nashville Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from