April 1, 2006

The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems
Billy Collins

Brilliant Clarity – Nicole Ravenell once pointed out to me how competitive simple conversation has become, with people (friends, frequently; the men and women we love the most, often) seldom listening and always elbowing to get the next word in, to claim the final say. We’re like hurried taxi drivers honking our way through bumper-to-bumper rush-hour traffic. Sadly, capitalism conditions us to expect (and embrace) competition in all aspects of our lives, from commerce to conversation, from the boardroom to the classroom to the bedroom. Poetry, good poetry, is not competitive. Good poetry is clear and cumulative, teaching us again and again to be patient, reminding us that quiet and slow is good.


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