Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Happy Birthday Billy Collins

Billy Collins March 22, 1941

  • Dubbed “the most popular poet in America” by Bruce Weber in the New York Times, Billy Collins 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. 
  • Collins’s level of fame is almost unprecedented in the world of contemporary poetry: his readings regularly sell out, and he received a six-figure advance when he moved into the publishing world in the late 1990's. 
  • He served two terms as the US Poet Laureate, from 2001-2003, was New York State Poet Laureate from 2004-2006, and is a regular guest on National Public Radio programs. 
  • In 2002, as U.S. Poet Laureate, Collins was asked to write a poem commemorating the first anniversary of the fall of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on September 11. The reading was in front of a joint session of Congress held outside of Washington D.C.
  • He likes to compare his poems with his architect wife Diane Olbright's buildings. Diane has been designing buildings for several years now and her landmarks have survived everything and they are still standing tall. And in the same way, Billy's poems are so strong and extraordinary that no matter how many years pass, they shall always be read and recited by future generations. 
A link to Collins's books

Carrot Cake 
Cook's notes: A simple but flavorful moist cake packed with lots of flavor to celebrate his special day. So easy to put together and even better when shared with a friend over a cup of tea or coffee while enjoying his poems.
Cake Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs beaten 
  • 2 tsp. baking soda 
  • 1 cup white sugar 
  • 1 cup brown sugar 
  • 2 TB. Saigon cinnamon 
  • 1-1/3 cups vegetable oil 
  • 1-3/4 cups grated carrots 
  • 1-1/2 cups crushed nuts e.g. walnuts or pecans
  • 1 cup white flour 
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour 
  • optional 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained 
  • optional 3/4 cup toasted coconut 

Cake Directions: 

  • Grease a 13 x 9 glass pan.
  • Reserve 1/2 cup crushed nuts for topping. 
  • Beat eggs, add in rest of ingredients.
  • Mix well beating for about 2 minutes. 
  • Bake @350 degrees for 25- 30 minutes. 
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients and Directions:
  • 3 cups powdered sugar 
  • 1 TB. vanilla 
  • 3-oz. package softened cream cheese 
  • 1/2 cup milk-add more in as needed to get right consistency
  • Beat all ingredients until smooth and sprinkle crushed nuts on top of frosting. 
  • Refrigerate until serving and remove about ½ hour before serving. 
by Billy Collins

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue
or even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall

well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

Billy Collins, “Forgetfulness” from Questions About Angels. Copyright © 1999 by Billy Collins. Reprinted with the permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

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

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