It’s not often these days that you see a packed house at a poetry reading — maybe at a Poetry Slam, yes — but a reading? Well I attended one with Alex not too long ago that was a knockout. The scene was a beautiful chapel on the Middlebury Campus in Vermont.
The poet was Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States. I must confess that his work was knew to me, but his language and delivery bowled me over. And I wasn’t the only one: He had us all hanging on his every word — and what words! Funny, witty, heart-breaking, simple, sinewy, dangerous, delicious words. His poems seemed so immediate and approachable. They didn’t laugh at you, they laughed with you. The tugged at your heartstrings the way a child does, just by being alive and aware of what really matters.
Billy’s poems seemed so universal, yet so unique. Isn’t that the sign of great writing? Something that seems universal to us as readers and yet could only be captured in the author’s voice and rhythm.
How amazing to see a whole vast room of people all held spellbound by the words pouring out of one man’s mind, heart, wit, and creativity. What a wonder and a joy to think that we all can be united in one place at one time — all held together by a golden stream of words.
Sitting in that chapel next to my beloved Alex, I could only think how lucky we are who are born to the page. We are the troubadours of triumph and trouble, the lords and ladies of misrule and magnificent obsessions, the bards of bone-headedness and bravery. What a glorious calling! Write on.