I'm so glad I went. My favorite thing about Collins is how he can be humorous and profound in the same line of poetry. Not a single word out of place. And the things he writes about...
He read some old stuff, read a poem from his "forthcoming" (the introductory speaker, Thomas Lux, who is also a wonderful poet, said that he thinks "forthcoming" is every author's favorite word) collection entitled Horoscopes for the Dead, and read some haiku, which might have been my favorite part.
At one point he thread three poems about dogs. One of them was my favorite poem of the night, entitled "The Revenant." As introduction to this poem, Collins talked about how when writing about dogs or pets that we care about, it's often very difficult to avoid sentimentality. So he wrote "The Revenant" in a direct tack against sentimentality, and it is wonderful. The speaker is a dog's ghost, and the first line is "I never liked you."
He said that he has always advised poetry students who are having a difficult time with a line or a stanza to bring a dog into the room, and they will find their way out of the difficulty.
Another funny poem towards the beginning was called "Oh My God." Collins introduced it as a poem about a speech tic that has infected our language; however, as he was contemplating this phrase, he came to realize that while he'd always thought that only verbs have past tense, he realized that this phrase does too, and it's "I was like, 'oh my god.'" Funny stuff, folks.
So. A very enjoyable evening. Even my husband liked it, and he's not into poetry at all. If you ever get the chance to see Billy Collins, go go GO! You won't regret it.
My brother getting his book signed by the man himself.
Hard to see, but that's Tom Lux giving the intro.
Also hard to see, but that's Billy Collins after he first went up.