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Poet: Billy Collins

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Billy Collins?

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Poet: Billy Collins

Postby connor on Tue Apr 25, 2006 4:19 pm

I know a lot of poets who hate this man. I know nothing about him other than he's famous (for a poet). I just know a lot of people who hate him.
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Postby Maurice on Tue Apr 25, 2006 4:27 pm

I enjoyed the first couple things of his I had heard, and then the mind-numbing repetition of his schtick wore down my goodwill. Ultimately CRAP.

Once my wife and I were listening to one of his poems on the radio, shut it off in aesthetic disgust, and then started parodying it. I really wish I could remember some of the lines we came up with, which were not crap.
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Re: Poet: Billy Collins

Postby Andrew L. on Tue Apr 25, 2006 5:01 pm

connor wrote:I know a lot of poets who hate this man. I know nothing about him other than he's famous (for a poet). I just know a lot of people who hate him.


For people who fancy themselves "innovative" or "experimental" (or at least like such writing) he is the quintessence of what Ron Silliman terms "the school of quietude." Safe, normative, insipid, etc. Easy to hate. Also easy to ignore.

The fact that people get angry about poetry makes me happy, but it does nothing to leverage Collins from his trite crap.
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Re: Poet: Billy Collins

Postby connor on Tue Apr 25, 2006 5:07 pm

Andrew L. wrote:
connor wrote:I know a lot of poets who hate this man. I know nothing about him other than he's famous (for a poet). I just know a lot of people who hate him.


For people who fancy themselves "innovative" or "experimental" (or at least like such writing) he is the quintessence of what Ron Silliman terms "the school of quietude." Safe, normative, insipid, etc. Easy to hate. Also easy to ignore.

The fact that people get angry about poetry makes me happy, but it does nothing to leverage Collins from his trite crap.

I just read some.

Meh.

I'll take Thom Lux any day.
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Postby Brett Eugene Ralph on Tue Apr 25, 2006 8:39 pm

Billy Collins certainly has his moments. He's not someone whose poetry I reach for often, but the two or three of his books I've read have all had a number of poems I found smart, perceptive, and best of all, funny. If you think it's easy to be funny in a serious poem, go ahead and try it sometime. I also like that Collins is unafraid to write about even the most banal moments; I think it's important to affirm that anything can inspire a work of art and that we needn't reserve it for profound or tragic events.

While people have every right to dislike Collins' verse (or anyone else's), I have to think that much of the backlash stems from how visible--how successful--he has become. It seems that every poet who garners any kind of acclaim whatsoever (Allen Ginsberg and Carolyn Forche come to mind, also the Roberts: Frost, Lowell, and Bly) is summarily dismissed as a hack or a sell-out. It's as if lovers of poetry want it to remain a cultish obsession that they get to keep all to themselves, revelling in the idiocy of the masses, those Philistines.

Me, I think poetry is one of the highest art forms in existence. I applaud anyone who brings this to the attention of those who normally would ignore poetry, giving poets the satisfaction of reaching more readers and giving those readers an opportunity to experience the thrilling complex of thoughts and feelings that good poems have long given me.
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Postby connor on Tue Apr 25, 2006 9:03 pm

Brett, while I think this phenomenon is certainly prevalent in fiction, it's much worse with the poets I've encountered. Much, much, much worse!

Everyone here hates both Ginsberg and Frost, and I mean everyone. A fucking poet actually guffawed when I told him that I liked Robert Frost. What the fuck is wrong with Robert Frost?! Enough to laugh in the face of a guy you just met?!

Goddamn.
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Postby Brett Eugene Ralph on Tue Apr 25, 2006 10:31 pm

connor wrote:Brett, while I think this phenomenon is certainly prevalent in fiction, it's much worse with the poets I've encountered. Much, much, much worse!

Everyone here hates both Ginsberg and Frost, and I mean everyone. A fucking poet actually guffawed when I told him that I liked Robert Frost. What the fuck is wrong with Robert Frost?! Enough to laugh in the face of a guy you just met?!

Goddamn.


I find both Frost (grim Yankee misanthrope) and Ginsberg (cringe-worthy demented fop) distasteful as people, sure, and I often balk at the persona that seems to come through their poems. But only a fool would deny Frost's craftsmanship or the fact that he's written many, many outstanding poems. Only an idiot would argue that "Howl" is not the most important poem published in America since World War II, the one that made it okay to be gay, be crazy, use drugs, and revile the government. Sure, Whitman had done it all a hundred years earlier, but Whitman had become a non-entity in the staid, New Critical 1950's. In short, "Howl" changed everything.

So salut, Allen Ginsberg! Your poems about your butthole bum me out, but you made America (relatively) safe for weirdos like me.

And salut, Robert Frost! I imagine that your cold, bitter, beautifully rendered take on existence will make more and more sense to me as I grow older and this world and its inhabitants increasingly mystify me.
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Postby connor on Tue Apr 25, 2006 10:41 pm

Ginsberg wrote:I hope my good old asshole holds out
60 years it's been mostly OK
Tho in Bolivia a fissure operation
survived the altiplano hospital--
a little blood, no polyps, occasionally
a small hemorrhoid
active, eager, receptive to phallus
coke bottle, candle, carrot
banana & fingers -
Now AIDS makes it shy, but still
eager to serve -
out with the dumps, in with the condom'd
orgasmic friend -
still rubbery muscular,
unashamed wide open for joy
But another 20 years who knows,
old folks got troubles everywhere -
necks, prostates, stomachs, joints--
Hope the old hole stays young
till death, relax
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Postby Krystofsky on Tue Apr 25, 2006 11:14 pm

"So you guys like the Beatles and stuff like that?"
"guffaw, snicker"
"YEAH THAT'S RIGHT! THE BEATLES! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG THE BEATLES!?"
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Postby connor on Tue Apr 25, 2006 11:28 pm

Krystofsky wrote:"So you guys like the Beatles and stuff like that?"
"guffaw, snicker"
"YEAH THAT'S RIGHT! THE BEATLES! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG THE BEATLES!?"

Hey Krystofsky,

Right now I'm listening to the first Van Halen record and kind of enjoying it. WTF, right?

Now I can see what feathered your mom's hair all those years ago.
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Postby Brett Eugene Ralph on Wed Apr 26, 2006 12:06 am

connor wrote:Right now I'm listening to the first Van Halen record and kind of enjoying it. WTF, right?

Now I can see what feathered your mom's hair all those years ago.


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