Billy Collins

Billy Collins, I’m sorry to say I judged you by your name.

My sister gave me a book of yours Christmas last, and while I loved the cover (nine dissimilar photos of horses, as you know),

I thought, Billy. Maybe Collins. But not Billy. No poet is called Billy. What would a Billy write about? Trucks. Northwestern states. Maybe, given the benefit of the doubt, that peculiar and distasteful shade of green associated with John Deere. Which is fine. I’d read a poem about that.

But you had me from the title page. The one with the quotation. Anyone who picks a quote like that has some sense.

I confess it took me some time to reconcile with your name.

The reason I’m writing this is 1) It’s new year’s day at 9.30 pm and the baby’s sleeping and I’ve been reading your poetry online because I ransacked the house looking for your nine horses, who have skedaddled somewhere, and because Amazon won’t let me read all the poems in your new book  no matter how many windows I open up and click “Surprise Me.”

And 2), I just looked up your picture because I read about you liking fawns and had another mental wrestle with a Billy who likes fawns and I totally get it now. You look like your name, and you look like your poems, so your face is the link between your poetry and your name, and I am content, except for the fact that you wrote all those poems and I didn’t.


  • You’re charming.

    What do you think Shakespeare’s friends called him?

  • Do you think?? Alarums and excursions! I like to say that because it sounds like donner und blitzen, like an oath, and because alarum sounds like alarm.

  • Good ole’ Billy S, always up for a laugh. Or sodomy.

    My self-effacing, intentional stupidity makes me think of this:

    All I remember about the paper was that it ended with the sentence ‘And as we leave Donne and Walton on the shores of Metahemeralism, we wave a fond farewell to those famous chums of yore.’ We wondered if he would fail.

    Ha, famous chums of yore.

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