“Yesterday, I lay awake in the palm of the night.”

collins 2 croppedThis is the first line of a poem by Billy Collins, who believes the “signature” of  a poem is its tone. In an interview with George Plimpton for the Paris Review, Collins said, “The basis of trust for a reader used to be meter and end-rhyme. Now it’s tone that establishes the poet’s authority.” While many poets strike only one tone — and it’s solemn — Collin’s poetry has a much broader range — from humorous to thoughtful to punchy — which helps explain why he’s such a popular speaker. YouTube has 147,000 videos of people reading his poetry.

Billy Collins, Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems (New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2014), p. 254.

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