Billy Collins, one of the most recognized among American poets, did a wise thing years ago. He harnessed the power of video to many of his poems. This not only helped poet-writers with the art of imagery, it also gave reluctant poet-readers (often known as “students”) a door into the not-so-bad-after-all genre of poetry.
Given the amount of technology available to writers, teachers, and students alike, Collins’ example can lead in multiple directions. As readers, you can read, reread, discuss, reread, enjoy, reread, analyze, reread, and then view a poem.
As a writer, you can write your own. For some writers, wondering what your words would look like if animated might inspire the specific nouns which give birth to imagery.
Finally, as an animator, you can create a video for your own poem (or one for someone else’s poem that inspires you). The tools are there, even in the classroom in the case of many tech-savvy schools.
But whatever you do or don’t do, seeing and hearing accessible poems like Billy Collins’ will prove (once again) that poetry is meant to be read aloud, whether it be yours or someone else’s.
Here is Billy Collins’ TED Talk, which introduces animation for his poems “Budapest,” “Some Days,” “Forgetfulness,” “The Country,” and “The Dead.”
And here are words to the poems used in the video:
Searching “Billy Collins Poetry” on YouTube will lead you to even more of his poems set to video.
Happy reading (and rereading) and viewing (and reviewing) and finally writing (and revising).
Notice the important of re-‘s. Then go have some fun.
5 thoughts on “Billy Collins, Animated”
Ken pronounces, “poetry is meant to be read aloud, whether it be yours or someone else’s.” I’ve heard this statement forever. However, I’ve also heard too many poets read their stuff (and other’s) so awfully, I’d rather play it safe and stay home, snuggly in my Lazyboy, reading the poems to myself.
Despite your pronouncement (and any attractions in your well-worn Lazyboy), you yourself have done public readings of your poetry, having no idea how you were perceived (wonderfully or awfully). But you knew that already.
And speaking of forever statements, this morning, while searching up Billy Collins videos and poems, I came across one where he was asked to give advice to would-be poets. Guess what he said? You got it! READ (poetry, that is). READ, READ, READ.
Then he said you’re a bit of a well-worn Lazypoet if you try to storm the citadel and call yourself hot stuff without first reading the masters. He specified Milton’s PARADISE LOST (the story of my childhood, I think) and Wordsworth’s PRELUDES, which seems to be around 100 pages long, last time I flipped through.
Now I truly feel like a fraud.
Ken, I just try to find out beforehand if a poet is a good reader of his/her work. I wouldn’t go hear Ashbery or Russell Edson or Louise Gluck read again. I think I’m a good reader because my wife is super-critical of my mumbling, and she likes to hear me read in public.
Milton? Wordsworth? Jeezus, that’s a tuff intro to writing one’s own verse! I started with William Stafford, Marvin Bell, and Randall Jarrell with a little Chaucer and pope thrown in.
My wife may be critical at home, but out in public she always supportive (so my readings, all two of them, are great… always great).
I’ve read Chaucer (had to memorize the opening lines of the Prologue, like many a college student, in Middle English), but many of the greats I only saw in drive-by’s during survey courses where you had to buy a HUGE paperback at exorbitant cost. Collins seems to feel you pick up a certain rhythm and internalize it when you pay your dues with the classical gases, but then, he teaches at colleges sometimes. He’s paid to say that.
Love this series.