TSS – Billy Collins & Poetry

Yesterday, Ben and I made the 2-hour drive (where’s that high speed rail?) to Orlando to attend the very first University of Central Florida Book Festival. Authors, publishers, and readers spent the day listening to lectures and readings, meeting writers, and buying books. This festival caught my eye pretty early, and if it had been in Tampa, I would have no hesitation about going. But it was in Orlando, so something bigger than that had to convince us to attend. That thing was Billy Collins.

I am not a poetry reader. I believe I recently shared the root of this problem with you: too much John Donne in AP English 10 years ago. However, Ben does enjoy poetry (English teachers and their poetry *shakes head*) and his favorite poet is Billy Collins. And I just really wanted to meet someone who had been the U.S. Poet Laureate (can I be the laureate of something?) So we went to the festival primarily for him.

He was a delight. Funny, quick, and all-over entertaining. He read us some of his poems and I found myself thoroughly enjoying them. His poems are about everything and anything, from a lost chess piece, to a spring day, to Virginia Woolf and her inflatable canoe. Perhaps poems are better spoken than read (and at least I don’t have to analyze these ones in a timed writing).

After he was done speaking, he signed our books. He was friendly and seemed to enjoy speaking with his fans. He joked about how Ben actually knew how to find a title page, and asked where I went to school and worked. I don’t get to author signings like those of you in the more literary cities do, so I don’t have much to compare him to, but I can’t imagine all writers are like that. If they are, I must start going to more of these things and perhaps move to one of those literary cities.

I thought this experience was fitting for National Poetry Month and I may just give poetry another chance now. Ten years should be a long enough recovery time, right?