Billy Collins: A few people have said, “Well, this new poet is kind of imitating you,” but I never see it. I think it’s like when someone says “That person over there looks a lot like you.” You never see that yourself because you don’t think you look like what the first person thought you looked like. So I don’t really recognize these influences. I don’t know. Insofar as my poetry, it’s not difficult. It’s readable. It follows the etiquette of a sentence. If you know English, you can step into the poem without any initial problems. I see them as courtesies, because I see willfully obscure poetry as simply a kind of verbal rudeness which begins by ignoring the reader.
It’s like being in a room with someone and they’re just ignoring you. They’re looking out the window or looking at their shoes. So I suppose in that sense I’ve brought a few people back to poetry who had been scared away from it by teachers and by the rigors of school, of the way poetry is handled in school.
July 4, 2007