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Succotash my Balzac, dipshiitake.

Uncle Billy speaks

Billy Collins is a fantastic poet. In fact, it is not unreasonable to say that discovering his poetry reinvigorated a sense of purpose and direction in my writing. I've been reading him online today. Here are some excerpts from an interview conducted by the late George Plimpton for The Paris Review a couple of years ago. There is quite a bit of good stuff here.

Until recently, I thought "occasional poetry" meant that you wrote only occasionally.

The first line is the DNA of the poem; the rest of the poem is constructed out of that first line. A lot of it has to do with tone because tone is the key signature for the poem. The basis of trust for a reader used to be meter and end-rhyme. Now it's tone that establishes the poet's authority. The first few lines keep giving birth to more and more lines. Like most poets, I don't know where I'm going. The pen is an instrument of discovery rather than just a recording implement. If you write a letter of resignation or something with an agenda, you're simply using a pen to record what you have thought out. In a poem, the pen is more like a flashlight, a Geiger counter or one of those metal detectors that people walk around beaches with. You're trying to discover something that you don't know exists, maybe something of value.

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