Billy Collins Poem

Billy Collins Poem

Within the arena of almost every utterance an intense interaction and struggle between one’s own and another’s word is being waged.
– Mikhael Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays

My process is rather ridiculous,
because I am always stealing,
whether or not I know it.
Once I wrote what I thought a divine sentence,
Only to realize I lifted it from someone else’s work.

I hate when that happens.
I’d rather be knowingly unoriginal than unknowingly.
I’d rather steal consciously and hope that no one notices,
than do so by accident and risk praise for something I don’t deserve.
In the constant conflict between what is said and what is not,
I am always waving the white flag.

I can write a whole stolen stanza if I have to.
As Parmigiano did it, the left hand
bigger than the head, twisting towards the reader
and swerving easily away, like a mother-bear defending her cubs.

Are you not pleased?

In a book I read, the main character was a poet.
(What a surprise, writers writing about writers.)
He stole lines translated from Lorca,
flipped Ashbury on his head and made love to him.

Does that make him a thief or a collector?
An artisan or a pickpocket?
That’s the annoying thing about poetry.
I really can’t tell.