Words, Words, Words: The Craft of Writing

The joy in writing poetry is being down on your hands and knees with the language.
  • Transcript


Billy Collins: Education, I mean teaching literature allows you as a writer to re-read literature; the kind of literature you’d want to re-read semester after semester. And teaching also gives you time to write. I find that teaching and poetry go right together and I don’t see any conflict there. There’s an interview-type question that involves the word “balance”, and it’s often, “How do you balance having six children, and starting this new company, and writing a novel, and being a ballerina at the same time? How do you balance all those things?”

I’m not trying to put a question in your mouth, but if the question were asked to a poet, it would be something like, “How do you manage to balance writing a poem every two weeks and doing absolutely nothing in between?” I mean that would be; I think it’s a very delicate act of balancing there. It’s not a labor-intensive job. You know, Max _______ – I like quoting this – said that, “The hardest thing about being a poet was knowing what to do with the other 23½ hours of the day.” So there are times for other things.

 July 4, 2007