Originally Blogging the Artist's Way. Thoughts, musings, experience of the 12-week course, January to March 2006. And after that?.... Life, creativity, writing. Where does it all meet? Here, perhaps.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Poetry Thursday. To The Poet's Wife

This week's suggestion at Poetry Thursday goes like this:

" This week’s idea has a two parts (which are both, of course, completely and totally optional):
Part I Write a poem to, for, or about a poet.
Part II Write a letter to a poet and then share it with the Poetry Thursday community on Thursday. "

When I saw the prompt, I thought "Great! I'm not going to have time to write a new poem, but at least I have something close to Part I. I have a poem to a poet's wife". I've long had a crush on Billy Collins. It's an open secret. Here's the poem:

To Mrs. Billy Collins

I hope you get his eggs just right
(I bet he likes them soft, doesn’t he?)
and his coffee – strong, dark, isn’t it?
I know he’s a modern man,
I know he’d fix his own breakfast
and I don’t expect you to do it.
But I would, if I were you.
I know I would.

While he’s working – sitting at a window,
looking out, wool-gathering, wondering –
do you watch him? I would, I’m sure.
I’d drive him mad, with watching him.

Does he – while you’re eating dinner, say –
does he pause between mouthfuls
and utter a phrase,
like another man might comment
on the rising (or falling)
of the Dow Jones index?
And are you accustomed to that?
Is it just a matter of course,
ordinary? Does he – when he sleeps at night,
tell me – does he snore?

And when he reads aloud,
a few lines,
testing them out,
does your heart lift,
the way mine does?

Part II of the exercise is to write a letter to a poet. I suppose it's only fair that I should complete it. Here goes....

Dear Billy,
I mean, Dear Mr. Collins,

Forgive my forwardness. Forgive the cheek of my poem. Forgive me for my besottedness. It's not you. It's your poetry. Maybe it is you, but I doubt it. It's not that you're unattractive, but I know (and hope you won't be offended when I say this), that if I passed you on the street, and didn't know who you were, well, I would just pass you. I wouldn't particularly notice you. Maybe. And then, maybe I would. Because you have a way of pausing, there's a look in your eye when you're just about to say something, and if I passed just as you were giving the world that look, I might catch it.

Oh... This is not where this letter was meant to go. I meant to tell you about the poems that make me catch my breath. The poems I have to share with people. "The Dead" - I force people to read that, and the one about Angels. I meant to say what it meant to me to hear you read; how I count myself as lucky, lucky, lucky to have had that chance, not just once, but twice.

My friends tease me. I have been seen to blush when your name is spoken. I know... ridiculous. You're not a pop-star. You're not Robert Redford. But you are a man who has a soul, a living, active, real, soul that shows itself in poetry, and my soul comes to life when I read your words.

Thank you for them. Thanks to Mrs. Collins for looking after you.

Your Number One Fan.

OK. My big secret's out. You can read about other poets over at Poetry Thursday.

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At 5/4/07 2:57 am, Blogger deirdre said...

Love this. It's good to have a crush, especially when there's soulfulness and intelligence involved. How could you not?

At 5/4/07 7:24 am, Blogger Beaman said...

I like the poem very much. The structure is quite perfect and it's interesting to read.

At 5/4/07 8:02 am, Blogger welcome to my universe said...

That is quite a crush you have there, and communicated beautifully, thank you.

At 5/4/07 11:30 am, Blogger January said...

Great post!

Hope this doesn't ruin your love of The Dead, but here is a well-done animated adaptation of it on YouTube:

The Dead

At 5/4/07 11:43 am, Anonymous Brian said...

Wonderful poem and letter expressing your love of a poet and his words.

At 5/4/07 11:58 am, Blogger etain_lavena said...

aaahhhhhh this is way kewl......I enjoyed it so much, still have a smirk on me;)

At 5/4/07 12:31 pm, Blogger bgfay said...

Of course you have me thinking of Billy Collins' poem "The Trouble with Poetry":

"the trouble with poetry is / that it encourages the writing of more poetry, / more guppies crowding the fish tank, / more baby rabbits / hopping out of their mothers into the dewy grass."

You got the structure and sound of him into your piece. I could hear him reading it but he was reading it in a female voice, perhaps yours. I like the idea of trying to copy another poet's style. It teaches us what we need to know about the writing of poetry, the rhythms of it.

I'm also reminded of a reading I went to. Tobias Wolff who is a tremendous storyteller had finished and was signing his books. Off to the side sat his wife, waiting as I imagined she had a hundred times. I kept thinking that she would be the one to talk to more than the writer himself. And so I did.

At 5/4/07 12:49 pm, Blogger Crafty Green Poet said...

I like this very much, especially the ending. I like Billy Collin's poetry too (though I havent got a crush!).

At 5/4/07 2:30 pm, Anonymous amy said...

Billy Collins came into the library where my husband works and asked him for help finding books by Donald Justice. Your crush can go on--he was very nice. :)

I'm sure you know his poem about undressing Emily Dickinson? Maybe his own poetry crush? (mine are Greg Pape and Anne Sexton)

At 5/4/07 2:38 pm, Blogger gautami tripathy said...

I like the almost reflective way of the poem. yet questioning.

At 5/4/07 2:51 pm, Blogger pepektheassassin said...

Oh, these made me laugh! What a wonderful way to start the day! Thanks.

At 5/4/07 2:58 pm, Blogger Regina Clare Jane said...

How wonderful- both the poem and the letter! I will have to read more of Mr. Billy Collins!

At 5/4/07 3:02 pm, Blogger writerwoman said...

The poem is wonderful. Such an original idea. I like how you express your admiration for him by wondering what his life is truly like. It has a very fly on the wall quality to it that I enjoyed.

At 5/4/07 4:39 pm, Blogger Norma said...

Both the poem and letter are delightful--conveying enthusiasm and tenderness. A nice, safe crush.

At 5/4/07 9:05 pm, Blogger Marcia said...

A letter to the poet's wife is clever, and I loved the questions you chose to ask. The letter to Billy, Mr. Collins felt sincere, making it very effective. Fun.

At 5/4/07 9:25 pm, Blogger Pauline said...

I loved this post! I feel exactly the same way about Billy Collins and to thank Mrs. Collins for looking after him was such a great touch - your poem and letter speak for a lot of us, I'm sure...

Well done.

At 5/4/07 10:41 pm, Blogger Jessica said...

I've always had a bit of a snobbish disdain of Billy Collins, but after reading this very funny and insightful poem, I'm going to haveto take another look.

At 5/4/07 11:13 pm, Anonymous tinker said...

Oh, that was wonderful! I especially liked when you asked his wife if he snores, lol. Like most women, she would probably have a few choice things to say about him as a man, I would imagine, no matter what we might think of him as a poet.
I've only read a few of his poems, but the ones I have read, I have liked very much.

At 6/4/07 10:41 am, Blogger Fragmentsinsight said...

Wonderful poem. Openly asking all these 'intimate' details without hesitating; perfect.
And the letter is almost as bold as the poem and very honest. I loved reading both.

At 6/4/07 7:56 pm, Blogger Caroline said...

Now I know what you're ideal man really is like!

At 7/4/07 2:24 pm, Blogger Clockworkchris said...

I loved everything about this post, most of all the honesty. That is totally the way to go. You must have spent some real time thinking of exactly what to say and I can tell from all the comments that it was apprecaited. It inspires me to find a poet I think it that wonderful.

At 7/4/07 4:30 pm, Blogger Gypsy Purple said...

Wishing you and your family a happy and blessed Easter

At 11/4/07 8:36 pm, Blogger Pat Paulk said...

I, too, am a big fan of Billy Collins. My favorite book of his is "Nine Horses". Love the idea of writing a poem to his wife. Good poem!!

At 11/4/07 8:47 pm, Blogger Kara said...

I love the humor. Your crush comes through so strong I want to go out and buy some Billy Collins books.

At 4/5/08 1:23 pm, Blogger Rick Hamrick said...

Imelda, I love this!

I don't know how one can approach Billy Collins, at least in words, without a clearly lighthearted air...and you did!

Thanks for sharing this work with us.


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