Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Billy Collins explains serious poetry training to you.

In the past, I've appreciated Billy Collins's skill at being both well-crafted and accessible.  I even saw him a couple of times- (Skirball Cultural Center and Pepperdine University).

At Skirball, he seemed to be critical of MFA programs (which most poets consider vital to being taken seriously).

But he now seems to be no more than the kind of pedant routinely found in poetry circles--the kind of person who will inevitably make a snide reference to first-person poems (often, young poets start by writing about their experiences) as diary/journal entry poems or "teenage angst."

And, to top it off, you're not "real" if you don't read every syllable of The Classic Poets/Authors/Thinkers.

Here's Billy harrumphing at perceived Straw Amateurs  via the NPR website:

It really  lies in the simple act of reading tons of poetry. And I mean not just stuff you find in magazines but if you really want to be trained in poetry you need to read Milton — you need to read Paradise Lost. You need to read Wordsworth — you need to read Wordsworth's 'Prelude.'"
"That's if you want to take it seriously. If you don't want to take it seriously, you can just get a 79-cent pen and express yourself," he laughed. "No one's gonna read it with any pleasure because ... you haven't paid attention to what happened in the past."

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