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In this exclusive audio publishing event, Billy Collins, former U.S. Poet Laureate, shares an evening of his poetry in a benefit reading for WNYC, New York Public Radio. Often compared to Robert Frost, his poetry has been embraced by people of all ages and backgrounds, and his readings are most often standing room only. Performed by the author at Peter Norton Symphony Spac In this exclusive audio publishing event, Billy Collins, former U.S. Poet Laureate, shares an evening of his poetry in a benefit reading for WNYC, New York Public Radio. Often compared to Robert Frost, his poetry has been embraced by people of all ages and backgrounds, and his readings are most often standing room only. Performed by the author at Peter Norton Symphony Space in New York City, Billy Collins reads 24 of his poems, including -Dharma- --a spiritual yet humbling ode to man's best friend, -The Lanyard--an amusing recollection about the popular, if not pointless, summer camp pastime, and -Consolation- --a tongue-in-cheek reflection of a cancelled European trip, and the benefits of staying home instead. In addition to the poetry readings, Collins also spends some time in a brief question and answer session where he reflects on what makes good poetry, his own process of reaching his audiences as a poet, the success of his Poetry 180 programs in schools nationwide, and an amusing sidebar on his memories growing up as an only child. At times pensive and sardonic, amusing and subtly sarcastic, Billy Collins Live celebrates both the simple and the complex in a language that appeals to all.


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In this exclusive audio publishing event, Billy Collins, former U.S. Poet Laureate, shares an evening of his poetry in a benefit reading for WNYC, New York Public Radio. Often compared to Robert Frost, his poetry has been embraced by people of all ages and backgrounds, and his readings are most often standing room only. Performed by the author at Peter Norton Symphony Spac In this exclusive audio publishing event, Billy Collins, former U.S. Poet Laureate, shares an evening of his poetry in a benefit reading for WNYC, New York Public Radio. Often compared to Robert Frost, his poetry has been embraced by people of all ages and backgrounds, and his readings are most often standing room only. Performed by the author at Peter Norton Symphony Space in New York City, Billy Collins reads 24 of his poems, including -Dharma- --a spiritual yet humbling ode to man's best friend, -The Lanyard--an amusing recollection about the popular, if not pointless, summer camp pastime, and -Consolation- --a tongue-in-cheek reflection of a cancelled European trip, and the benefits of staying home instead. In addition to the poetry readings, Collins also spends some time in a brief question and answer session where he reflects on what makes good poetry, his own process of reaching his audiences as a poet, the success of his Poetry 180 programs in schools nationwide, and an amusing sidebar on his memories growing up as an only child. At times pensive and sardonic, amusing and subtly sarcastic, Billy Collins Live celebrates both the simple and the complex in a language that appeals to all.

30 review for Billy Collins Live: A Performance at the Peter Norton Symphony Space

  1. 5 out of 5

    Julian

    My friends who actually read and love poetry all conclusively think Billy Collins is a hack who has as much to do with honest poetry as Bobcat Goldthwait has to do with marine engineering. But what do they know (besides poetry)? Poetic minimalism or abstractitude (is that a word? is now) I agree are perhaps more respectable. I don't know. Someone who is smarter than me once said "poetry is for ideas which cannot be written as prose". Of course I knew another real smart fella who said that if it's My friends who actually read and love poetry all conclusively think Billy Collins is a hack who has as much to do with honest poetry as Bobcat Goldthwait has to do with marine engineering. But what do they know (besides poetry)? Poetic minimalism or abstractitude (is that a word? is now) I agree are perhaps more respectable. I don't know. Someone who is smarter than me once said "poetry is for ideas which cannot be written as prose". Of course I knew another real smart fella who said that if it's not in rhyme and verse then it is not actual poetry. All these rules just smell to me of insecurity or atleast silly guyness (like dudes who get worked up when speed metal, thrash and grindcore are all lumped together) - ok, whatever! Like any good NPR listener I love Billy Collins. I am not put off by the perhaps over-accessibility of his ideas, or his cutesy metropolitan intellectuality (is that a word? I'm on a roll) or his capacity for unapologetic sentimentality. I find those very attributes to his favor. His work is comforting to me, like Star Trek reruns or biscuits-n-gravy. Despite that suggestion, his work propels my mind to thought and I find his words and images distinct, bright and inspiring. More academic poetry leads my mind to wander off and thus make me feel dumb (which maybe I am and maybe that's the point of Creeley or who ever; to separate the wheat from the chaff. It's not, but I like to think that because it's funny and vaguely clever). Anyhow, what particularly enamors me is Mr. Collins' performance style. He's cool, understated, a bit rye and his timing is impeccable. The introduction by Bill Murray is antagonistic and kinda chaotic; a nice counterpoint. ...okay, done typing.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    ~~~this delighted me, and i can't remember being so delighted ever. Nightclub You are so beautiful and I am a fool to be in love with you is a theme that keeps coming up in songs and poems. There seems to be no room for variation. I have never heard anyone sing I am so beautiful and you are a fool to be in love with me, even though this notion has surely crossed the minds of women and men alike. You are so beautiful, too bad you are a fool is another one you don't hear. Or, you are a fool to consider me beau ~~~this delighted me, and i can't remember being so delighted ever. Nightclub You are so beautiful and I am a fool to be in love with you is a theme that keeps coming up in songs and poems. There seems to be no room for variation. I have never heard anyone sing I am so beautiful and you are a fool to be in love with me, even though this notion has surely crossed the minds of women and men alike. You are so beautiful, too bad you are a fool is another one you don't hear. Or, you are a fool to consider me beautiful. That one you will never hear, guaranteed. For no particular reason this afternoon I am listening to Johnny Hartman whose dark voice can curl around the concepts on love, beauty, and foolishness like no one else's can. It feels like smoke curling up from a cigarette someone left burning on a baby grand piano around three o'clock in the morning; smoke that billows up into the bright lights while out there in the darkness some of the beautiful fools have gathered around little tables to listen, some with their eyes closed, others leaning forward into the music as if it were holding them up, or twirling the loose ice in a glass, slipping by degrees into a rhythmic dream. Yes, there is all this foolish beauty, borne beyond midnight, that has no desire to go home, especially now when everyone in the room is watching the large man with the tenor sax that hangs from his neck like a golden fish. He moves forward to the edge of the stage and hands the instrument down to me and nods that I should play. So I put the mouthpiece to my lips and blow into it with all my living breath. We are all so foolish, my long bebop solo begins by saying, so damn foolish we have become beautiful without even knowing it. ~~~I was also listening to some other poems, classic, venerated ones, Robert Frost, et.al, read out loud, and cringing in pain as the readers tried to act out the words, and thereby crucifying them, so Billy Collins reading his own poems was just, well, delightful. Nostalgia Remember the 1340's? We were doing a dance called the Catapult. You always wore brown, the color craze of the decade, and I was draped in one of those capes that were popular, the ones with unicorns and pomegranates in needlework. Everyone would pause for beer and onions in the afternoon, and at night we would play a game called "Find the Cow." Everything was hand-lettered then, not like today. Where has the summer of 1572 gone? Brocade and sonnet marathons were the rage. We used to dress up in the flags of rival baronies and conquer one another in cold rooms of stone. Out on the dance floor we were all doing the Struggle while your sister practiced the Daphne all alone in her room. We borrowed the jargon of farriers for our slang. These days language seems transparent a badly broken code. The 1790's will never come again. Childhood was big. People would take walks to the very tops of hills and write down what they saw in their journals without speaking. Our collars were high and our hats were extremely soft. We would surprise each other with alphabets made of twigs. It was a wonderful time to be alive, or even dead. I am very fond of the period between 1815 and 1821. Europe trembled while we sat still for our portraits. And I would love to return to 1901 if only for a moment, time enough to wind up a music box and do a few dance steps, or shoot me back to 1922 or 1941, or at least let me recapture the serenity of last month when we picked berries and glided through afternoons in a canoe. Even this morning would be an improvement over the present. I was in the garden then, surrounded by the hum of bees and the Latin names of flowers, watching the early light flash off the slanted windows of the greenhouse and silver the limbs on the rows of dark hemlocks. As usual, I was thinking about the moments of the past, letting my memory rush over them like water rushing over the stones on the bottom of a stream. I was even thinking a little about the future, that place where people are doing a dance we cannot imagine, a dance whose name we can only guess. ~~~Really, who laughs out loud, so often, at a poetry reading? It felt intimate and important, sweet and wise thoughts and teachings hidden amongst the witty and gentle observations of life. Litany You are the bread and the knife, The crystal goblet and the wine... -Jacques Crickillon You are the bread and the knife, the crystal goblet and the wine. You are the dew on the morning grass and the burning wheel of the sun. You are the white apron of the baker, and the marsh birds suddenly in flight. However, you are not the wind in the orchard, the plums on the counter, or the house of cards. And you are certainly not the pine-scented air. There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air. It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge, maybe even the pigeon on the general's head, but you are not even close to being the field of cornflowers at dusk. And a quick look in the mirror will show that you are neither the boots in the corner nor the boat asleep in its boathouse. It might interest you to know, speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world, that I am the sound of rain on the roof. I also happen to be the shooting star, the evening paper blowing down an alley and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table. I am also the moon in the trees and the blind woman's tea cup. But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife. You are still the bread and the knife. You will always be the bread and the knife, not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine Ornithography (The legendary Cang Jie was said to have invented writing after observing the tracks of birds.) A light snow last night, and now the earth falls open to a fresh page. A high wind is breaking up the clouds. Children wait for the yellow bus in a huddle, and under the feeder, some birds are busy writing short stories, poems, and letters to their mothers. A crow is working on an editorial. That chickadee is etching a list, and a robin walks back and forth composing the opening to her autobiography. All so prolific this morning, these expressive little creatures, and each with an alphabet of only two letters. A far cry from me watching in silence behind a window wondering what just frightened them into flight — a dog's bark, a hawk overhead? or had they simply finished saying whatever it was they had to say?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jeimy

    Funny reading by the former poet laureate of the United States.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    "Read" is the wrong word, since this is a poetry performance where Billy is introduced by Bill Murray, and, I'm sorry, but can you get better than that? "Read" is the wrong word, since this is a poetry performance where Billy is introduced by Bill Murray, and, I'm sorry, but can you get better than that?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Yune

    So this is not technically a book but a recording, but surely many people with a literary bent will be as delighted with this as I. I'm amazed by people who dismiss Collins's poetry as, well, not poetry: for being too accessible, too prosaic, too common in subject. I would use him as an introduction to poetry over Shel Silverstein any day. He captures moments as deftly as anyone using bigger and more words, and he often layers others' famous lines into his own work. (See "Litany".) He's an excelle So this is not technically a book but a recording, but surely many people with a literary bent will be as delighted with this as I. I'm amazed by people who dismiss Collins's poetry as, well, not poetry: for being too accessible, too prosaic, too common in subject. I would use him as an introduction to poetry over Shel Silverstein any day. He captures moments as deftly as anyone using bigger and more words, and he often layers others' famous lines into his own work. (See "Litany".) He's an excellent reader. I had the fortune to listen to him live once, and this recording captures perfectly his dry humor. (He often pauses while the audience laughs.) He also provides introductions and explanations for his works which are often just as funny. For all the sheer fun I get out of Collins's work, there's something resonant about it too. After listening to this I found some lines stuck in my head, not just for their chuckle value but because it was simply lovely how he chose those particular words, framed that particular sentiment.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Huff

    Though this was simply a live performance of his poetry, it was well worth the audible credit. He is a terrific poet and public speaker.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Robyn Jones

    Since it's poetry month, I decided to online window shop my public library for a cool poetry book. I tried and failed with a couple authors and then Billy Collins hit my ears. I love him. When you listen to this, it feels like the days of getting to sit in a crowded audience listening and laughing while an author you fangirl over talks about anything. Word by Word is another book/author talk that gives you this same feel (without the poetry). Billy made me laugh and when I listened to a couple o Since it's poetry month, I decided to online window shop my public library for a cool poetry book. I tried and failed with a couple authors and then Billy Collins hit my ears. I love him. When you listen to this, it feels like the days of getting to sit in a crowded audience listening and laughing while an author you fangirl over talks about anything. Word by Word is another book/author talk that gives you this same feel (without the poetry). Billy made me laugh and when I listened to a couple of my favorites again he made me laugh and get emotional all in a single poem.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sharron

    To those who say that Billy Collins’ poetry is too accessible, I say get over yourself and spare me your pretensions. I found this recording to be both funny and thoughtful. Three cheers for Billy Collins.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Casseroll

    Laid back poem reading. Some decent funny moments. Poem is not one of my favorite genres but this guy is interesting.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    An audio recording, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Maureen DuRant

    Listened to this, of course.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    What a delight.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Quick and enjoyable. Collins is humorous and self-deprecating. "Ornithography" remains a favorite. Intro by Bill Murray is fun. Worth 75 minutes of your time, and mine again. Quick and enjoyable. Collins is humorous and self-deprecating. "Ornithography" remains a favorite. Intro by Bill Murray is fun. Worth 75 minutes of your time, and mine again.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    4.0 stars. Very accessible introduction to poetry—poems read by the author at an event introduced by Bill Murray.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I initially was introduced to the work of Billy Collins when he was a guest on The Colbert Report promoting his book Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems. I enjoyed his quirky style and the lackadaisical, slightly sing-song tone his voice takes on as he performs his poems. This audiobook was a treat. From its Bill Murray introduction to the last answer in the short Q&A session included at the end, I was entertained. I actually paused and rewound to listen to a couple of the poems a second time i I initially was introduced to the work of Billy Collins when he was a guest on The Colbert Report promoting his book Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems. I enjoyed his quirky style and the lackadaisical, slightly sing-song tone his voice takes on as he performs his poems. This audiobook was a treat. From its Bill Murray introduction to the last answer in the short Q&A session included at the end, I was entertained. I actually paused and rewound to listen to a couple of the poems a second time in order to appreciate them more deeply. I highly recommend this book if you are looking for light poetical entertainment and don't mind a little weirdness.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    Like most poetry, it tends to grow on you. Not exactly my cup of tea; a little too accessible, if there's such a thing. A little too jokey, perhaps (that probably says more about my own effete attitude than anything else, I'm well aware). And fewer poems about dogs would be good. But certainly an enjoyable listen and a good introduction to poetry for anyone. The first poem, in particular, is a success in the way that it paints a vivid picture of his surroundings and draws you into his story. I kn Like most poetry, it tends to grow on you. Not exactly my cup of tea; a little too accessible, if there's such a thing. A little too jokey, perhaps (that probably says more about my own effete attitude than anything else, I'm well aware). And fewer poems about dogs would be good. But certainly an enjoyable listen and a good introduction to poetry for anyone. The first poem, in particular, is a success in the way that it paints a vivid picture of his surroundings and draws you into his story. I know that others were listener favorites too but do yourself a favor, check it out yourself and draw your own conclusions. Worth the hour, certainly. Nice to hear an accomplished poet reading their own works.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jt

    first, i am a writer like billy collins. he is a professional bard while i create moodscapes recreationally. there might be some critics who feel poetry should be abstract, non-linear, challenging. billy composes poetry with a deft touch. it is more accessible & deserves critical acclaim. i know some of you might groan but his economical style is unique like frost. within this spoken word performance, there are some highlights. Dharma, the Revenant, the Lanyard, Ornithology, More than a Woman (a first, i am a writer like billy collins. he is a professional bard while i create moodscapes recreationally. there might be some critics who feel poetry should be abstract, non-linear, challenging. billy composes poetry with a deft touch. it is more accessible & deserves critical acclaim. i know some of you might groan but his economical style is unique like frost. within this spoken word performance, there are some highlights. Dharma, the Revenant, the Lanyard, Ornithology, More than a Woman (adore the 70's & 80's music references), and Bill Murray too. listen to these poems with clarity & impartiality. you will discover that poetry can be fun. Yes fun! we all need a sense of humour in such turmoil. Billy Collins represents our human faces. it sees what is truly there.

  18. 4 out of 5

    E

    Former poet laureate of the US, Collins has a great sense of humor and of the way that poetry exists in mundane activities like looking out the window or eating breakfast. His poems, while usually short and accessible, have depth and can spin off in several directions at once. It's a joy to hear him read these in his modest voice that has a hint of cynicism in the background. Three of my favorites are the poems about dogs ("Dharma" and "The Revenant" - the first a tribute to life with dogs and t Former poet laureate of the US, Collins has a great sense of humor and of the way that poetry exists in mundane activities like looking out the window or eating breakfast. His poems, while usually short and accessible, have depth and can spin off in several directions at once. It's a joy to hear him read these in his modest voice that has a hint of cynicism in the background. Three of my favorites are the poems about dogs ("Dharma" and "The Revenant" - the first a tribute to life with dogs and the other a funny treatment attempting to examine dogs "without sentitmentality" in the voice of the dog who never liked his master) and "Lanyard," about camp and mothers and boys.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    - A brief treat - I like Billy Collins. I especially like it when he reads his own work. This is a short audio recording of Billy Collins reading his poetry. If you're unfamiliar with Billy Collins, his poetry is accessible, and layered. Whether we are watching stars drip off a canoe paddle, or wondering just who is the bread and the knife, Billy Collins swaddles us in imagery and leaves us smiling, in thought Four of my favorites: * "Forgetfulness" * "Ornithography" * "Constellations" * "Litany" - A brief treat - I like Billy Collins. I especially like it when he reads his own work. This is a short audio recording of Billy Collins reading his poetry. If you're unfamiliar with Billy Collins, his poetry is accessible, and layered. Whether we are watching stars drip off a canoe paddle, or wondering just who is the bread and the knife, Billy Collins swaddles us in imagery and leaves us smiling, in thought Four of my favorites: * "Forgetfulness" * "Ornithography" * "Constellations" * "Litany"

  20. 4 out of 5

    Denny

    I think this is my 4th time listening to Billy Collins Live, and I can state with confidence I will never grow tired of it. Every time I slip it into the cd player, no matter how black my mood, as soon as Bill Murray starts his introduction, I begin to grin. From the time "Sweet Billy" begins his recitation 'til the last audience question is answered, I cannot stop smiling, even when I'm wiping away tears of joy or regret. Thank you, Mr. Collins, for this timeless jewel of an audiobook. I think this is my 4th time listening to Billy Collins Live, and I can state with confidence I will never grow tired of it. Every time I slip it into the cd player, no matter how black my mood, as soon as Bill Murray starts his introduction, I begin to grin. From the time "Sweet Billy" begins his recitation 'til the last audience question is answered, I cannot stop smiling, even when I'm wiping away tears of joy or regret. Thank you, Mr. Collins, for this timeless jewel of an audiobook.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    Billy Collins is so talented that he could do a stand up comedy routine if he ever tires of being a poet. This audiotape is a delightful assortment of his light poems PLUS all the banter and clever wit that seems to pour out of him in front of a live audience. He's charming, intelligent and VERY funny. I love this book. Plus he reads my very favorite Collins' poem, "Japan" to this audience too. About the haiku? the bell? It's just a winner. Billy Collins is so talented that he could do a stand up comedy routine if he ever tires of being a poet. This audiotape is a delightful assortment of his light poems PLUS all the banter and clever wit that seems to pour out of him in front of a live audience. He's charming, intelligent and VERY funny. I love this book. Plus he reads my very favorite Collins' poem, "Japan" to this audience too. About the haiku? the bell? It's just a winner.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    I had the good grace to hear Billy Collins - no, take that back, experience Billy Collins at Florida Southern College and his good-natured renditions of his poetry made me a bigger fan than I already was -- accessible, readable, quirky, quick and clever. His poetry makes students love poetry and even the poets he loves are then loved by students. He has a deft way with words, but beyond that - he is human to the core. A real person. This is a delight and brought back great memories.

  23. 5 out of 5

    TC

    I'm not a big poetry buff, but these are poems that anyone can enjoy. The program is introduced by Bill Murray and includes a short question and answer session with the poet. These poems are funny! Two of my favorites are The Lanyard and The Revanent. Even if you think you don't like poetry, you should give this program a shot, it might surprise you! I'm not a big poetry buff, but these are poems that anyone can enjoy. The program is introduced by Bill Murray and includes a short question and answer session with the poet. These poems are funny! Two of my favorites are The Lanyard and The Revanent. Even if you think you don't like poetry, you should give this program a shot, it might surprise you!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    A very, very funny performance by Billy Collins. While I enjoy his work on the page, when you hear him read, it adds a whole new dimension to the work. I listened to this on a drive across New Hampshire, and laughed almost nonstop. An extremely entertaining offering. My favorites include The Lanyard, Revenant, The Trouble with Poetry, and Night Club.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Treat yourself to this audio recording! (You can check it out from the library.) I found myself grinning and laughing in the car as I listened and drove. Billy Collins writes poetry that is accessible, thought-provoking, and more often than not, hilarious. The introduction by Bill Murray is priceless. I am now working my way through all of Billy's poetry books. Two thumbs way up! Treat yourself to this audio recording! (You can check it out from the library.) I found myself grinning and laughing in the car as I listened and drove. Billy Collins writes poetry that is accessible, thought-provoking, and more often than not, hilarious. The introduction by Bill Murray is priceless. I am now working my way through all of Billy's poetry books. Two thumbs way up!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Browne

    In this exclusive audio publishing event, Billy Collins, former U.S. Poet Laureate, shares an evening of his poetry in a benefit reading for WNYC, New York Public Radio. Often compared to Robert Frost, his poetry has been embraced by people of all ages and backgrounds, and his readings are most... Fun, funny, good for people of all ages. Inspiring poet.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Amazing poetry! Recently, Billy Collins visited Nashville and I heard him read his poetry and answer questions from the audience. It was thrilling to me and I wanted to ask the question, how do you think poetry writing different or similar to song-writing. But I was chicken.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    This CD of Billy Collins reading his poetry live is phenomenal. I would challenge anyone who says they don't like poetry to listen to this. And for those of us who already do, you can appreciate rare stroke of brilliance. Billy Collins is great to read, but much better to listen to. This CD of Billy Collins reading his poetry live is phenomenal. I would challenge anyone who says they don't like poetry to listen to this. And for those of us who already do, you can appreciate rare stroke of brilliance. Billy Collins is great to read, but much better to listen to.

  29. 5 out of 5

    pri

    Fantastic. I love his poetry and loved, even more, getting both to hear it in his own words and to hear his funny little openings. Giving new meaning to some of my favorites of his. If you enjoy his poetry, hear it from him.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bayneeta

    Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States, reads 24 of his poems and offers comments, reflections and insights into each one. Introduction by Bill Murray. Funny and thought-provoking.

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