Topic: Creative Process.
Billy Collins: Well the joy in writing poetry is being down on your hands and knees with the language. You know, if someone carves swans and animals out of soap, that person loves soap. And if you write, you love language. So writing a poem is an opportunity to get as close to the language as pretty much you can get. The other joy . . . because it is a pleasure, and I wouldn’t write. I have no mission that drives me to write poetry. It is a very hedonistic activity and I write for pleasure. I go there to get pleasure, and if possible to give pleasure.
So one of the key pleasures is – and most poets would agree with this – is starting out not knowing where you’re going and finding a way to get there. So the poem becomes not a whole expression of something you think or feel, but it becomes a journey through itself to an ending. And that ending is unforeseeable. And in fact, the ending is something that the poem is busy creating. It’s almost as if the poem is the only way to access that particular ending. I have a poem called “Questions About Angels”. And at the end of that poem an angel appears. And I didn’t know she existed before I wrote that poem. And I guess strictly speaking she didn’t. So I think that the job of that poem was to bring its own ending to being.