Saturday 4 August 2007

Elitism, Accessability, and Billy Collins

Collins takes some lumps from a lot of his peers for being a writer of "accessible" poetry. San Fransisco Chronicle columnist John Carroll, who admits that he is not a big reader of poetry himself, takes the time to ponder the question of accessibility, elitism, and place of Billy Collins in contemporary poetry.
For the record, Collins doesn't much care for the word "accessible" either, because it suggests "ramps for poetically handicapped people." He likes the word "hospitable." But he concedes that "accessible" has won the day, and he's happy with the side he finds himself on. "Some poems talk to us; others want us to witness an act of literary experimentation."

Read the whole column here.


Robert Earl Stewart said...

I have a Collins CD I listen to in the car. He is indeed "hospitable" and I would add the word "comforting". Be forewarned, though--one day, my children may wax whistful about "Dad's dogeared copy of Collins".

Anonymous said...

I love the comment "Really? That was the backbreaking straw?", a nice jab in the bubble of full-time litterateurs who might have accepted Vendler's statement without question. I'm also glad that he mentions Halliday, who I like a lot even when I suspect he's gettin' away with it sometimes.
Whatever you think of Collins' actual poems, you have to admit those animated films on YouTube are pretty cool.