where were you on october 10, 2008?

I know I will never forget 10/10/08.

I was driving to work at my first cool-sounding job ("oh me? I work at the Arts and Science Center, helping launch the Body Worlds exhibit... yeah, I know, it is...") and listening to the Diane Rehm Show. On this particular day was an interview with two former poets laureate Billy Collins and Donald Hall.

It was one of the most stirring interviews on writing, and poetry, I may have ever heard. Here are some highlights:

1. I learned that the plural for "poet laureate" is "poets laureate."

2. Billy Collins said the argument that no one reads anymore may feel true but it is actually rather thin, considering there are now more MFA and MA and PhD programs in the fields of writing and literature than ever before, more literary magazines than ever before, and more poetry readings than there have ever been. He said we only feel this way because of our audience: the audience for writers tends to be other writers. He likened this to attending a symphony, and everyone in the theatre seats is holding a violin case (or something... listen to it to double check the metaphor).

3. One of them, I think Mr. Collins, said something lovely about death in writing. When we sit down to dinner at a restaurant and there are flowers at the table there's a moment where we reach out to touch them. Why do we do this? he asked, To see if they are real. If they are real, they will die, and are therefore somehow more beautiful. And if they are fake, we aren't as impressed at how that beauty came to us, and that it will be here forever.

And... that's about all I can remember. I hope that link works, and if it doesn't, that you can find one that does. It is very much worth listening to, no matter what you write.

Billy Collins talks about how the central theme of poetry is death in this interview which took place in November of 2005

Another wonderful interview: with fiction writer Antonya Nelson (KU alum!). I delayed my Valentine's Day activities to finish listening to this one.


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