Friday, April 11, 2008

POETRY FRIDAY: Workshop, A Poem by Billy Collins

Are you "into" analyzing poetry? Do you find it more difficult to critique your own poems or the poems of other writers? Here is a poem by Billy Collins that I thought would be a good selection to post this second Friday of National Poetry Month.

By Billy Collins

It gets me right away because I’m in a workshop now
so immediately the poem has my attention,
like the Ancient Mariner grabbing me by the sleeve.

And I like the first couple of stanzas,
the way they establish this mode of self-pointing
that runs through the whole poem
and tells us that words are food thrown down
on the ground for other words to eat.
I can almost taste the tail of the snake
in its own mouth,
if you know what I mean.

But what I’m not sure about is the voice,
which sounds in places very casual, very blue jeans,
but other times seems standoffish,
professorial in the worst sense of the word
like the poem is blowing pipe smoke in my face.
But maybe that’s just what it wants to do.

You can read the rest of the poem here.


At Wild Rose Reader, I have an interview with children's poet Janet Wong.

Cloudscome has the Poetry Friday Roundup at A Wrung Sponge.


Sara said...

Only Billy can write a poem about a poem about a poem! I adore the way he laughs at himself.

Elaine Magliaro said...


I do like the poetry of Billy Collins--and how he can write with seriouness and humor at the same time. Have you ever read his poem "The Rival Poet?" Every time I read it I chuckle.

Anonymous said...

He just never fails to lift things up, that Billy Collins...

tanita✿davis said...

I also love the fact that the poem comes from the book The Art of Drowning... definitely that's also a way to read poetry, to throw oneself in, to flounder, drink it in, and let it fill one to drowning...

laurasalas said...

Second try (got an error first time).

I love this poem, Elaine. I also love workshopping poems, which I think can be helpful. But this is a perfect portrayal of someone workshopping a poem that's probably dreck and is totally inaccessible to anyone but the poem himself (and maybe even to him). Thanks for sharing it!