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Archive for the tag “Billy Collins”

My love affair with Billy Collins

photo_1074_20060214dotttBilly Collins boarded my plane.

I was seated in 17C. He sat alone in 14C.

If my posture was both correct and very erect, I could see him. I could see his head and fractions of his body.

Two of his all-time very best books, “Flying Around the Room” and “Nine Horses” were in my carry-on bag. I was just reading the poems in “The Art of Drowning” last week. Did I conjure him up? Was he traveling alone? What was he reading? Could we do lunch?

I saw him dive into his carry-on and pull out massive Bose headphones. No subtle message there. If ever there was an object that screamed, “Do not talk to me,” its the “Big Boys Bose” headphones.

Craning my neck, I saw a small fraction of his head, shoulder and arm. I casually stretched to gain a better vantage and decided my bag could actually live in an overhead bin, for a while, thus providing me an excuse to stand up and move closer to Billy Collins.

Nonchalantly, I rose  - happily discovering that my bin was filled to the max – which would allow me to move, oh, so close, to Billy. A great mental debate ensued, “To hi or not to hi.”

A passionate fan for well over a decade – I owned a copy of every one of his books and gave a copy of Litany to every recent boyfriend. I’d seen him, in-person, in San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Plus, I had his books in my carry-on. Kismet. I was an A-1, authentic devotee. We both wrote poetry. We both used the word “perfervid” fervently. I had once memorized his poem on memory loss and our writing group did a whole session on his poem “Consolation.

While I gathered courage and feigned nonchalance, a voluptuous redhead in black leather pants and high heel boots, swaggered her way down the aisle and slipped in next to my Billy Collins.

I watched – pretending not to be staring- as he removed his Big Bose and started conversing with the hussy. I could feel myself bristling and slowly turning into Kathy Bates in Misery. I imagine the people sitting next to me thought I  was acting like a pop-up prairie dog.

Hey! If I’d gotten this close to Billy – what would it take to invoke Michael Chabon? I’d both read the book and shopped on Telegraph Avenue; had seen the movie Wonder Boys, I was cavalier and liked clay. Okay, so that was a stretch.

Dejected and rejected, for the next hour I listened to Lyle Lovett and I buried my head in Sun magazine.

Once (okay, twice) I sat very  tall and looked – they were quaffing and chatting.

There was no consolation.

Well, actually,  I did have that lovely book of poems by my new very favorite poet,  David Whyte… Everything is Waiting for You.

Stay Jung, Carl – Happy New Year

booksI can read you like a book.

Overheard: “My first child weighed as much as the big Red Book by Carl Jung.”  Nine pounds.

416 pages and $200.00. @ Amazon. Dream on.

Dyslexics think the book is entitled, ‘Going Rouge’ is by the very dry Sahara Plain.

Billy Collins, former poet laureate and, really, the sexiest and smartest poet alive, has a new, bullet proof book out entitled, “Ballistics” and prefers his ballistics on wry. Try to remember to read his very memorable poem, Forgetfulness.

The annual New Year’s resolution to de-clutter and get very Feng Shui usually involves purging, donating and organizing books.”The Room for Debate Blog” at the New York Times poses the question: What books could you purge, donate, or never be without? Good question.

When you get to that horse latitudes place in your life where you are forced to toss those scintillating books from college: Mark’s Mechanical Engineering, Botany, Kafka, Camus, and Twain, just do it. Load all those books into multiple Trader Joe’s bags and donate them to the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. However, some books you have to keep. One holiday book you must seek out and save, no matter what, is David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries. Check out Sedaris reading aloud about Crumpet the Elf in Santaland. Do not do this while operating a car, as resulting raucous laughter may impair your driving.

Ray Bradbury is hot. Fahrenheit 451 hot. He is a literary legend and a stalwart leader for keeping budget impaired California libraries open. Also a romantic, he said,  “If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.”

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors,
and the most patient of teachers“.
Charles W. Eliot

Whisper a poem in my ear and I’ll follow you anywhere

Do you have time for Rhyme? April:  National Poetry Month

Poetically speaking, April is actually the coolest, not the cruelest month.

The hot topic around the table at the sublime Zuni Cafe was how perfectly seductive it is to hear a man recite a poem. Consensus was, “Oh, yeah!” Wordsworth said, “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from a motion we collected in tranquility”. Voltaire called poetry, “Music of the soul”.

Whatever You Call It- Just Do it

Whether you recite a poem, a haiku, a sonnet – whether it’s blank verse – or free verse, lyrical or satirical- women swoon over poetry. There’s something irresistible and alluring about having someone recite a poem to you.

Remember: poems are meant to be slow and leisurely, read aloud and read more than once.

Now is the time, April, – to pick up a book of poems, choose a poet – whether it’s Ogden Nash (Candy Is dandy; But liquor Is quicker) or W.H. Auden, or local poet laureate: Kay Ryan or T.S. Eliot Keats, or Billy Collins. Find a slim volume of poems and revel in the language.

Poetry 101

Billy Collins, the highly esteemed, favorite among English majors everywhere, Poet Laureate,blithely explains teaching poetry to students in his poem entitled, “Poetry 101”


 

Here are the Top 10 Poems of the Day

1. Elizabeth Barrett Browning “How Do I Love thee? Let me count the ways”

2. Robert Burns, scalding red-hot love poem: “My Red, Red, Rose

3. Emily Dickinson “I Cannot Live with You”

4. Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 “Shall I Compare You to a Summer’s Day?”

5. Sir Walter Raleigh “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd”

6. Billy Collins “Litany”

7. William Wordsworth “The Daffodils”

8. W.H Auden’s “Funeral Blues”

9. Francis William Bourdillon “The Night has a Thousand Eyes”

10.Henry Wadsworth Longfellow “The Day is Done”

April is Poetry Month: Read them, recite them, revel in poetry.

“Poetry is the shadow cast by out streetlight imaginations.” Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Robert Frost. 1875–  

66. Birches

WHEN I see birches bend to left and right
Across the line of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them              5
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells       10
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed       15
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.       20
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
(Now am I free to be poetical?)
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows—       25
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father’s trees
By riding them down over and over again       30
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away       35
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,       40
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.

So was I once myself a swinger of birches;
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood       45
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.       50
May no fate wilfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,       55
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.       60


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San Francisco Dating@50 Examiner, Page Larkin, welcomes your feedback, questions and queries at 50datesexaminer@gmail.com.

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