Billy Collins

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Charlotte Square

19th August


The Bookfest welcomed back Billy Collins after an 8 year hiatus, an effulgent poet whose works are short, funny & touching. We get no mighty mechanical manouvres, or deeply-pirit-shattering revelations, just keen & quiet observations on life that he makes with an effortless dance across his page. U.S. Poet Laureate from 2001 to 2003 and New York State Poet Laureate from 2004 to 2006, his latest book – Aimless Love  – is a blend between the best poems of his past, & fifty new additions to his oevre.

aimlesslove copy

When Collins reads his poetry, he strikes his listeners with such pleasant & easy cadences, that we all feel rather much like we are toddlers listening to mother tell a story. One poem was called : Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House:, & reads:

The neighbors’ dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.

The neighbors’ dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking,

and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.

When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton

while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius.

The theater was packed out with fans of Collin’s work, from whom rose a constant murmur of titters & guffaws. I found myself joining in on many occasions, & liek many in the audience, now found myself a fan after a only a few moments withe man & his work. Here’s an excellent film on you-tube for fans & future groupies alike.

Damo Bullen


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