Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.
Someone in Stonybrook, New York paid cash for this book in 2007. The past owner left their receipt as a bookmark for the title poem from Billy Collins’ “The Trouble With Poetry.” There’s a bent lower corner of the poems, “The Drive,” and “The Order of the Day.” This prior reader folded and then folded again the edge of the page, making a deliberate notch. There’s some dog-earing along the top that may have been incidental. I always read with a notecard as a bookmark, but if I were ever to meet Billy Collins with this edition in hand I would assure him that any and all creases and smudges were marks of love.
If I were to meet Billy Collins, I’m sure I’d either flatter him lamely in clichés–very pathetic in front of a poet–or I could “try too hard” equally lamely. Maybe I could tell him about the time I had a drink with his fellow Former Poet Laureate Mark Strand in Nebraska. With a group of faculty and staff after a reading at our small college, Strand and I sat side-by-side for cocktails at a bar called The Brass Ring. Strand said he loved Kafka and I went on about Prague, a city he had never seen. Trustworthy colleagues claimed he was flirting with me, but I wouldn’t tell that to Billy Collins. After all, I didn’t notice it, he may think I was bragging, and he may have heard it before.
I may also not want to admit that I purchased used copies of his books, unless I also told him how I played his poetry for my students with a grin on my face. It was clear how much I adored him, and when they would laugh at his clever lines, I felt it was a personal compliment. Maybe this would be a problem as well. Glory, it’s hard to know what to say to a poet. I guess I’m glad we’ve never met.