Sunday, March 22, 2009

Getting a little deeper

It being Billy Collins' birthday, The Writer's Almanac featured a poem by His Laureateness today. Introduction to Poetry is a poem I use in my workshops with kids, but not, I think, Collins' finest.

Here's one I prefer, from the same book:

Walking Across the Atlantic

I wait for then holiday crowd to clear the beach
before stepping onto the first wave.

Soon I am walking across the Atlantic
thinking about Spain,
checking for whales, waterspouts.

I feel the water holding up my shifting weight.
Tonight I will sleep on its rocking surface.

But for now I try to imagine what
this must look like to the fish below,
the bottoms of my feed appearing, disappearing.

Collins has said before that he feels he's at his best when he "has nothing to say", and I think comparing this poem to Intro demonstrates that. Atlantic is to me much more imaginative; I think Intro is funny, for sure, but the point is made early, and it could end either sooner or later to greater effect.

And a minor complaint to the Almanac: Old poems have been featured quite a bit, lately, and repeat poems at that. Aren't there any recent poets and poems worth presenting? Or even just newer work from the old favorites would be nice: this effort from Collins is circa 1988; I think he's published 6 books since then.

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