Poetry 180

Today’s blog is about a poem, and here it is: Billy Collins, with a poem called Poetry 180:

I ask them to take a poem

and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

A lot of people ask me who my favorite poet is, and I have different categories. Favorite living poet: Tony Hoagland. Favorite poet of all time: Rudyard Kipling. My second-favorite living poet is Pavi Mehta (nee Krishnan). She’s the only one I’ve corresponded with of all my favorites. I wrote a poem on a blog she had, and she shut down the blog some time after – so I don’t have the poem any more. Pity – I was proud of it. It was about how stands of old-growth trees are cut down to make Nicanor Parra’s ‘blank pages’, and it ended with the words “…and your poetry, Pavi, is worth even that.”


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