Who is this Billy Collins? Quite happy this week that a colleague came back from San Fran with $70 worth of books including In the American Tree and the Robin Blaser Jack Spicer anthology AND some John Taggart AND some Carla Harryman AND FULCRUM I’ve been looking forward to Fulcrum since the issue was announced on the POETICS list some time back. Who is this newcomer? A Sulphur for the 21st century. Unfortunately not. There are some great articles and poems in there; I enjoyed the Bernstein/Perloff interview; but a lot of the poetry is just plain unmusical and awkward (Pat Herron is looking good though). But to top everything off is this one BAD poem from a guy called Billy Collins and an equally DULL interview. Billy Collins is new to me, really. I’ve heard his name, and wish it were only that. I understand that he is a bit of a celebrity in the US.. but then they have Fox news there too… The problem with the Collins poem in Fulcrum is that it has lines and verses that have no rhythm, no meter and visually the lines don’t even contribute to the poem. They just are in the way the gold shit sits atop the Asahi building (the difference being that the shit has become a landmark and one can’t even remember one line from the poem). Moreover, the last verse is just some quirky twist like the poems on those pastel colored poetry sites for teens. I read with bewilderment that Collins spends 7 or 8 hours a day writing. I wonder what he does with that time? And as for the interview itself, Collins and the interviewer come off as rather toffee-nosed. Aside from Collins’ odd comment about writing for such an amount of time, he also drops this peculiar off the cuff remark about Emily Dickenson. The interviewer compares Collins’ and Dickenson’s penchant for writing at home and Collins responds by saying something along the lines of, “ yeah, I’m like that, except I don’t wear the dress”. Que? This is a humor too sophisticated for me. Finally, I don’t understand Collins’ comment about there being too much serious poetry. The only serious poetry I’ve ever read was Celan, and even Celan’s writing has some humor.

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