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Final Billy Collins for National Poetry Month

Since 1996, the Academy of American Poets has declared that April is National Poetry Month. In honor of that, I’ll be celebrating poetry every Wednesday in April with a poem by my favorite poet, Billy Collins. So far, I’ve posted “Marginalia”, “On Turning Ten”, “Bar Time”, and “Dancing Toward Bethlehem.” Read on for the final post!

Instead of posting a poem for my final installment of Billy Collins fandom,  I’m just going to point out a few other places online where you can get your Billy Collins fix.

While doing a little research last week, I came across a site where you can download mp3’s of Collins reading some of his own poetry — The Best Cigarette. If you’ve enjoyed reading Collins’ poetry this month, I encourage you to go to the site and listen to a few of the pieces.

I also found a video of Collins reading his poem “Litany” in San Francisco, California as part of City Arts & Lecture, and a site with animated versions of some poems (“Hunger” is very creepy!)

I was curious how many books of poetry Collins has written, so I also found a bibliography of Collins’ books so you know what to look for you if you want to read more for yourself. His works include: Ballistics (2008), She Was Just Seventeen (2006), The Trouble with Poetry (2005), Nine Horses (2002), Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems (2001), Picnic, Lightning (1998), The Art of Drowning (1995), Questions About Angels (1991), The Apple That Astonished Paris (1988), Video Poems (1980), and Pokerface (1977).

Collins is also part of Poetry 180, a Library of Congress initiative to give high school students a poem a day to read. You can subscribe to an RSS feed of the 180 poems (it’s near the bottom of the page).

    And finally, a quote from poet Stephen Dunn about why Billy Collins is so awesome:

    We seem to always know where we are in a Billy Collins poem, but not necessarily where he is going. I love to arrive with him at his arrivals. He doesn’t hide things from us, as I think lesser poets do. He allows us to overhear, clearly, what he himself has discovered.

    I hope you enjoyed my National Poetry Month tribute to Billy Collins! Has reading his poetry inspired you to seek it out for yourself? Any other favorite “readable” poets you think people should know about?

    Comments on this entry are closed.

    • Jeanne April 29, 2009, 10:51 am

      When my daughter was in 8th grade, she won a poetry prize and it was awarded by a poet named George Bilgere. As part of the prize package (certificates, a savings bond, a collection of past winners from the writing program, etc.) he gave her Billy Collins’ Sailing Alone Around the Room. When I was thanking him I asked how he had resisted giving her one of his own volumes, and he said that some of his poems might be a bit too much for a 14-year-old (the love poems, I think he meant), but that Collins’ poetry is accessible for middle-schoolers. I found this to be a wise and generous gesture, and I’ve been a fan of Bilgere’s poetry–like Collins’ part of the “readable school”– ever since.

    • Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit) April 29, 2009, 12:05 pm

      What a great wrap-up for National Poetry Month. Thanks so much for contributing to the festival of poets…LOL Ok, I’m getting all kinds of goofy…must be near the end of my workday!

    • alirambles April 29, 2009, 2:50 pm

      I don’t read a lot of poetry, but every time I read or hear a Billy Collins poem I think I should make an effort to read more!

    • Rebecca Reid April 30, 2009, 7:32 am

      I’ve really been enjoying Billy Collins — I just posted about him today. Still working on Sailing Alone Around the Room, though.

    • Melanie May 2, 2009, 10:44 pm

      Thanks for all the great Billy Collins! I must look at more of his work. Good thing you’ve given us a map for exploration!