A new month is already here, and I’m behind again. Still, I want to honor one more poet for sparking my interest in poetry: Billy Collins. I’m sure you’ve probably all heard of him and read at least one of his poems along your way. Two that are very popular and that I remember standing out to me are Snow Day and Today, although I’ve read quite a few especially back in high school where poetry was really introduced to me. As with Lucille Clifton, although in a different and more lengthy way, Billy’s poems read familiar and simple – you know all the words, you get the meaning. And then his poems go a little deeper each time you read them, drawing out the craft, the magic of the words. If you don’t want to go deeper, you can just enjoy them for that layer. Read them a few weeks or years later, and maybe you’ll piece out something new you took away from it.
Besides the simple words, Billy Collins utilizes great use of imagery for us to engage with his creative thinking about familiar and simple things (such as having a day off for snow, or admiring a moment in a day). As I switched styles to nonfiction later in college, the use of the senses, especially imagery to tell the story, has always stuck with me. If you can show it vs explain it, that was really best for everyone.
Finally, as I noted about writing about the familiar – Billy’s style connects with such a wide audience. You get it, you enjoy it, and because you can take it on the surface or delve below, I usually walk away with a smile. Sometimes, a poem needs to simply remind us to engage, to chuckle, and to not take everything (including poetry) so seriously.
For my final poem in dedication to the month of April (and perhaps the excuse I will use as to why this blog post is late):
"day trip" sometimes the day skips past my side car window cloudy, with a chance of wonder we wander out of state with a Groupon, two bottles of water, credit card and gps two hours away moves the to-dos back to their list and allows conversation to pour from its plastic bottle we stop only for information we stay for one planned spot with unexpected moments a covered bridge, mischievous elves, and perhaps a dinosaur on the horizon sometimes time trips past lunch my stomach forgot its watch and sips beer in lieu of salad we're still stumbling through small towns we stop always for signs posted on buildings, cemeteries, and the one more thing then it becomes too late so we hold out for dinner drive close to the place we call home and feast we slip past the line that divides then and now, there and here arrive with recycling and stories to retell as we rest on the couch tired, wishing we had one more day