by Jennifer on October 27, 2008

A few years ago, my friend Madge told me that I should be reading Billy Collins. I don’t read much poetry – Rilke and Neruda are favorites, along with Mary Oliver and Amy Lowell and a handful of others. But she’s good at spotting books I might like, so I trusted her about this, too. She was right, of course. I hope she won’t mind that I’m borrowing him here.

I’ve found over time that the breaks I take from writing are as essential as the time I spend at my desk. An idea will come to me when I’m cleaning the kitchen or if I’m in my car. Sometimes that’s all it take to shake loose a single true sentence. Sometimes nothing else works.


The sun finally goes down like the end
of the Russian novel, and the blinding darkness
over the continent makes me realize

how tired I am of reading and writing,
tired of watching all the dull, horse-drawn sentences
as they plough through fields of paper,

tired of being dragged on a leash of words
by an author I can never look up and see,
tired of examining the exposed spines of books,

I want to be far from the shores of language,
a boat without passengers, lost at sea,
no correspondence, no thesaurus,

not even a name painted across the bow.
Nothing but silence, the kind that falls
whenever I walk outside with a notebook
and a passing cloud darkens my page.

– Billy Collins


(I can’t say I’m tired of reading right now, though. You should pick up Dennis Lehane’s new book, The Given Day. Click here for a review of the book from The New York Times. Lehane proves himself, more than ever, to be a master of his craft. Brilliant writing. An epic story.)
If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

melissa October 27, 2008 at 8:42 am

Between B Collins and D Lehane, how can you NOT be inspired? Amen to both choices.

melissas last blog post..Magical Schmagical

Madge October 27, 2008 at 12:26 pm

yea for Billy. i think he might be my secret boyfriend. sad, but true….

Madges last blog post..My Half Ass Life

JCK October 27, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Oh, that Madge is the best. I LOVED that poem. I am not familiar with Billy Collins. Now, I am. Thank you for sharing!

JCKs last blog post..I cannot write to please other people

RiverPoet October 28, 2008 at 5:56 pm

I’d love to read your review of the book. 🙂

And as for poetry, I love it but I don’t read it nearly enough. I think I’d like Collins, though, just from this taste. Post-modern and real.

Peace – D

RiverPoets last blog post..Quit Jammin’ Me

dragonfly November 2, 2008 at 2:10 am

Billy Collins is my favorite poet. Always. Thanks for the reminder of why.

dragonflys last blog post..Mickey has nothing on *my* little mouse.

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: