Challenges for Budding Artists

One of the most popular living poets in the United States, Billy Collins was born in New York City in 1941. Collins is the author of nine books of poetry, including She Was Just Seventeen (2006), The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems (2005), Nine Horses (2002), and Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems (2001). His work appears regularly in such periodicals as Poetry, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Harper's Magazine, and has been featured in various textbooks and anthologies, including those for the Pushcart Prize and the annual Best American Poetry series. Between 2001 and 2004, Collins served two terms at the 11th Poet Laureate of the United States. In his home state, Collins has been recognized as a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library (1992) and selected as the New York State Poet for 2004. Other honors include fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation, and the first annual Mark Twain Prize for Humor in Poetry. He is currently a Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College in the Bronx, where has taught for over thirty years. Ideas recorded at the 2007 Aspen Ideas Festival on: 7/4/07
  • Transcript


Billy Collins: I mean writing poetry, or painting, or dancing, or playing the trumpet, all of these activities that we consider art – for lack of a better name – are really, I think, just extensions of natural childhood activities, childhood desires that are enacted. I mean as children we are painters, dancers. Just give a kid a flute and he’ll start playing it. And writers. I mean all children love rhyme. I think poets/artists are just people who somehow didn’t allow that natural ability in childhood to be killed off by bad teaching, the self-consciousness of adolescence. A lot goes down the drain because of that.


July 4, 2007