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​Billy Collins is Awesome, or: How I Started Liking Poetry

Despite what I claimed as a pretentious 6th grader, I never really liked poetry. I always wanted to like it, but I never felt connected to it. In high school the only poetry we studied was Plath, which was the closest I came liking poetry, but my English teacher told me my analysis was completely wrong, so I pushed that away too.

Then, last year, I saw an interview with Billy Collins on the Colbert Report. He was funny, unpretentious, and just seemed like a nice guy (not nice guy TM). His poetry is easy to understand and has a lot of snark, which I love.


I kind of feel bad claiming such a mainstream, white, old, man as my favorite poet, but he is.

Here he is reading two poems at the White House. Listen through until the 2nd one, it's one of my favorites.

And here is my favorite poem of his:

What She Said

by Billy Collins

When he told me he expected me to pay for dinner,

I was like give me a break.

I was not the exact equivalent of give me a break.

I was just similar to give me a break.

As I said, I was like give me a break.

I would love to tell you

how I was able to resemble give me a break

without actually being identical to give me a break,

but all I can say is that I sensed

a similarity between me and give me a break.

And that was close enough

at that point in the evening

even if it meant I would fall short

of standing up from the table and screaming

give me a break,

for God's sake will you please give me a break?!

No, for that moment

with the rain streaking the restaurant windows

and the waiter approaching,

I felt the most I could be was like

to a certain degree

give me a break.

Who is your favorite poet? Do you have a favorite poem?

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