Thursday, December 6, 2012

Billy Collins

An Introduction to The Author

Dubbed as "The most popular poet in America" by The New York Times, Billy Collins has an intimate and accessible style.  Born in New York City in 1941, Collins grew up in a family that taught him to love literature.  He graduated from the University of California, Riverside with a Ph D. in English.  He founded the Mid-Atlantic Review in 1975 with Michael Shannon. Collins poetry was recognized by the National Poetry Society in 1990. His poetry can be described as humorous, quirky, tender and profound.  John Updike praised Collins, saying "Lovely poems...Limpid, gently and consistently startling, more serious than they seem, they describe all the worlds that are and were and some others besides."  Collins has taught at Lehman College in the Bronx for over thirty years.  

A List Of All Of Billy Collins Poems
A More Detailed Biography
An Interview With Billy Collins
A Timeline of Major Events in Billy Collins career
Billy Collins Public Facebook
An Online Discussion about Billy Collins

Billy Collins - Litany

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Introduction To Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for alight switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Introduction To Poetry Analysis

In “Introduction to Poetry” by Billy Collins, Collins tries to explain that poetry is something more than words on paper and that really it is a great experience. Often readers will read the poem and assume they understand the meaning of that poem after one trial. In Collin’s viewpoint this is false. In the first line where “I” is referring to Billy Collins and “them” is referring to his readers.
            Throughout the poem Collins uses a series of metaphors to help the reader better understand how most readers treat a poem. In the first couple of lines he asks “them” to “take a poem and hold it up to the light like a color slide or press an ear against its hive.” What Collins is trying to say is no one will truly know the meaning of a poem until it is carefully read and reviewed over many times. He uses a colored slide as an example. You cannot completely see everything on a colored slide until it is held up against the light, just as you cannot understand the true meaning of a poem until you carefully review it. He goes on to say, “I say drop a mouse into a poem and watch him probe his way out, or walk inside the poem’s room and feel the walls for a light switch.”  Collins successfully compares a “poem” to a maze and a dark room in a house. He reveals the feeling of being lost or frustrated through the thoughts of misunderstandings when reading a poem. In my opinion Collins does drive me to a conclusion that poems are hard to interpret until several frustrating attempts to understand it. In the third or fourth stanza Collins then explains that poems can also be exciting. He compares a poem as the enjoyment of waterskiing. Yet, in the last few lines Collins provides a sharp contrast, in terms of the amount of tone and imagery. He compares the poem to a person being tortured and being forced to confess. He believes that readers try to take their opinion of the poem and disregard the true meaning of it. What Collins is trying to do is remind and teach the readers to always be patient and open minded when reading a poem.
            In my conclusion Collins morale of the story is very significant. Rather than skimming through a poem with little understand of what it means all readers must get “inside” the poem to better understand it and then enjoy the rewards that come with the meaning. This idea is not applied to how most readers read today but I hope to see examples of them later in life. Foremost, it helps readers develop a more enhanced way to learn through memorization. Which can then be applied to other situations such as studying for a test. In the end we can better interpret how things work and then grow upon that, introducing more and better goals through vast learning experiences. 

Here is another critical essay of the work.

The Art of Drowning

I wonder how it all got started, this business
about seeing your life flash before your eyes
while you drown, as if panic, or the act of submergence,
could startle time into such compression, crushing
decades in the vice of your desperate, final seconds.

After falling off a steamship or being swept away
in a rush of floodwaters, wouldn't you hope
for a more leisurely review, an invisible hand
turning the pages of an album of photographs-
you up on a pony or blowing out candles in a conic hat.

How about a short animated film, a slide presentation?
Your life expressed in an essay, or in one model photograph?
Wouldn't any form be better than this sudden flash?
Your whole existence going off in your face
in an eyebrow-singing explosion of biography-
nothing like the three large volumes you envisioned.

Survivors would have us believe in a brilliance
here, some bolt of truth forking across the water,
an ultimate light before all the lights go out,
dawning on you with all its megalithic tonnage.
But if something does flash before your eyes
as you go under, it will probably be a fish,

a quick blur of curved silver darting away,
having nothing to do with your life or your death.
The tide will take you, or the lake will accept it all
as you sink toward the weedy disarray of the bottom,
leaving behind what you have already forgotten,
the surface, now overrun with the high travel of clouds

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Art Of Drowning Analysis

“The Art of Drowning” by Billy Collins is a nicely written poem about what happens as someone is approaching a quick, untimely death such as drowning. Collins wonders where the idea of one’s life flashing before their eyes before they die came from and whether or not it is something that really happens in an unfortunate death. He also wonders how one’s life will flash before their eyes.
            Collins wonders how a person’s mind can compress their entire life’s experiences into the last final seconds of their existence. He also ponders the different ways that he thinks a person’s life could be displayed in these last few seconds. Would it be like an invisible hand turning the pages of a photograph album, a short animated film, a slide presentation, or would your life be expressed in an essay, or in one model photograph? He wonders if each person has a different experience or if there is a set function in your brain that just compiles all of you life’s memories into a single flash before your eyes as you are about to die.
            He also thinks that it would happen so fast that people would imagine that their life would take longer to see in a flash and would be disappointed by the flash before their eyes. He also mentions that survivors of tragic experiences will make people believe that it is an amazing experience to have before you die. Ultimately Collins believes that there is no flash of light or memories compiled before your eyes. He believes that if you are drowning in any body of water the last thing that you will see before you die will probably be the curved silver flash of a fish swimming away from you having nothing to do with your life or death and the water will accept you as part of it now.

Another critical essay about the poem