Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Celebrating a Renowned Poet

Billy Collins is an American poet, appointed as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. He is a Distinguished Professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York and is the Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute, Florida. Collins was recognized as a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library (1992) and selected as the New York State Poet for 2004-2006. His poems appeal to a wide range of literary tastes. He is a master at capturing the nuances of everyday life and inspiring readers to wonder and think about the simple things in their lives. Often Collins' wry sense of humor comes across in the poems. He does not take himself too seriously. Collins is a master at engaging his reader in the first stanza by starting small not making too many demands and setting up the scene. Then he makes the poem more complicated and a little more demanding as he moves it along to completion.
Two years ago I was fortunate to hear Billy Collins speak at Brainerd Lakes Community College.
Collins most recent published book "Aimless Love" 2013, is a compilation of over 50 new poems and some selected poems from four of his previous books, "Nine Horses", "The Trouble with Poetry", "Ballistic" and "Horoscope for the Dead".

Envoy is a clever poem written on the back flap of the book "Aimless Love".
Envoy
by Billy Collins

Go, little book,
out of this house and into the world,

carriage made of paper rolling toward town
bearing a single passenger
beyond the reach of this jittery pen
and far from the desk and the nosy gooseneck lamp.

It is time to decamp,
put on a jacket and venture outside,
time to be regarded by other eyes,
bound to be held in foreign hands.

So off you go, infants of the brain,
with a wave and some bits of fatherly advice:

stay out as late as you like,
don’t bother to call or write,
and talk to as many strangers as you can.

Billy Collins was the U.S. poet laureate at the time of the 9/11 attacks. A year later, he wrote The Names in honor of the victims. Collins read the poem before a special joint session of Congress held in New York City in 2002.

Follow this link to hear Billy Collins read this poignant poem 
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/entertainment-july-dec02-names_9-06/
Billy Collins March 22, 1941
Cook's notes: Billy Collins is a straightforward kind of guy in his writing. He is famous for conversational, witty poems that welcome readers with humor but often slip into quirky, tender or profound observation on the everyday, reading and writing, and poetry itself. I think he'd approve of this straightforward, simple recipe. The dressing is amazing!

Asparagus, Tomato and Feta Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Recipe serves 4 and comes from cookingclassy.com
Cooking tip make vinaigrette an hour or two ahead for flavors to meld. Let it sit at room temperature. You will need to reshake the mixture. 
Salad Ingredients:
  • 4 cups diced asparagus spears, cut into 2 inch pieces (trim off tough ends)
  • 2 cup halved grape tomatoes, patted dry on a paper towel
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted 
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Vinaigrette Ingredients:
  • 6 TB. good quality dark balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and freshly ground pepper 
Directions:
  • Bring a pot of water to boil. Add asparagus to boiling water and boil until tender crisp about 4-5 minutes. 
  • Fill a medium bowl with water and ice cubes. Drain asparagus and immediately put in ice water. Let rest 10 seconds and drain.  
  • Transfer asparagus to a bowl with tomatoes and toasted walnuts. Drizzle vinaigrette over top and toss lightly. Sprinkle feta over salad. 
Vinaigrette
  • Add balsamic to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and allow to boil until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Stir several times.
  • In a blender add balsamic vinegar, olive oil, mustard, honey, minced garlic,season with salt and pepper to taste. Blend and place in a covered jar until serving.  The vinaigrette is thick so use a spoon to drizzle over salad.   

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