If the United States has a poet with rock star status, it's Billy Collins. He can sell books AND draw a crowd.
On Sunday afternoon, the former U.S. Poet Laureate entertained a full house at Glenn Memorial Auditorium at Emory University with a reading of his thoughtful but humorous poems.
He spent about an hour picking pieces from his eight collections, reading about talking dogs, adolescent girls, death, photography and the process of writing poetry.
Collins, 70, got a standing ovation at Emory, but he knows most people don't bother with poetry.
“I really stopped guessing why people don’t read poetry. I’ve sort of come to the conclusion that the reason people don’t read poetry is that they don’t read poetry. I don’t think it goes any deeper. The common excuse was that poetry was too difficult. I don’t buy that. My analogy is like with me and hockey. I don’t watch hockey on television, and the reason is I just don’t watch it. I have no interest in it. I don’t care if it’s violent or not, I’m just bored by it. So I really think it’s as simple as that. People are busy doing other things.”
After the reading he signed books for a long line of fans.
If you missed the sold-out Sunday reading, you can catch Collins at noon Monday, Jan. 30, in Cannon Chapel.
He will participate in a "Creativity Conversation" with poet Kevin Young, professor of creative writing and English, and Rosemary Magee, vice president and secretary of Emory University.
His most recent work is "Horoscopes for the Dead." He is a professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York.