Today is the birthday of American poet Billy Collins. He was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001-2003. Born in 1941 in Queens, New York, Collins didn’t publish his first book, The Apple That Astonished Paris (1988), until he was in his forties.
As poet laureate, Collins collected a unique anthology of poetry to revive poetry in American schools, called Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry. With this program Collins set out to end the notion that high school is "the place where poetry goes to die." Instead, he wanted students to see that poetry was meant to be read for enjoyment, read aloud over the school intercom, and shared. In short, Collins hoped to "suggest to young people the notion that poetry can be a part of everyday life as well as a subject to be studied in the classroom."
Collins published a second anthology of poems in 2005 so that readers can enjoy year-round poetry. It’s called: 180 More: Extraordinary Poems.
To visit Poetry 180 online go to: www.loc.gov/poetry/180/
To honor Poetry 180 Day and Billy Collins vision, read at least one poem aloud. Read it to your family at dinner, read it to your colleagues around the water cooler, or grab a megaphone and shout it from the rooftops!
Here’s a short poem to get you started:
DUST OF SNOW
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
Challenge: Today is also the birthday of Canadian actor William Shatner (born 1931). In honor of the man who brought us Where. No. Man. Has. Gone. Before. Select a short poem and recite it like the captain – as though Every. Word. Is. Its. Own. Sentence.
Quote of the Day: Every word was once a poem. –Ralph Waldo Emerson