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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,[…]

Getting writers to talk about their writing is harder than you think.

Billy Collins: I sort of think that getting a writer to talk about his or her own work is a little like if you’ve ever tried to get a dog interested in looking in a mirror – especially a puppy. You know you get this puppy, and that you take it over to the mirror and say, “Look how cute you are! Look at you,” you know? And the puppy doesn’t smell anything, so it doesn’t connect. And I think it’s a little like that with writers.  I’ve become known for a couple of poems. I mean, there’s a poem called “Forgetfulness” that I wrote quite a few years ago. And it is about mental slippage. And because of that it seems to have an ever-growing audience that can get on board that poem pretty quickly. I just hear from people that’s the poem that people say, “Well that’s on my refrigerator,” or, “I read that over the phone to somebody.” I suppose if everyone has a “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” that’s become kind of a signature poem. But again, if you ever see me sitting at home reading my own poetry, please come over and throw something at me . . . hard.


Recorded on: July 4, 2007 at The Aspen Ideas Festival