The poet Stephen Dunn writes, "We seem always to know where we are in a Billy Collins poem, but not necessarily where he is going. I love to arrive with him at his arrivals. He doesn't hide things from us, as I think lesser poets do. He allows us to overhear, clearly, what he himself has discovered."
Billy takes the ordinary and adds humor or gives it a twist. Enjoy his take on how to encourage students to nudge a poem into creation.
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 a light 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.
by Billy Collins
Take a tip from Billy and drop a critter into your writing today. Try a squirrel or a songbird. Choose an insect.
Add a snail. Give it a name, let it speak and probe its way out.
Don't worry about producing poetry, just follow your creature's lead.