Thursday, September 2, 2010
William Logan on Billy Collins
Collins has been called a philistine…he’s something much worse, a poet who doesn’t respect his art enough to take it seriously…yet readers adore Billy Collins, and it feels almost un-American not to like him. Try to explain to his readers what ‘The Steeple-Jack’ or ‘The River Merchant’s Wife’ or ‘The Snow Man’ is up to, and they’ll look at you as if you’d asked them to hand-pump a ship through the locks of the Panama Canal. Most contemporary poetry isn’t any more difficult to understand than Collins—it’s written in prose, good oaken American prose, and then chopped into lines...so secure in his tendencies he can’t remember when he didn’t have tendencies at all.