Thanks to my daughters (and their high school English teachers), I have a new favorite poet. This poet doesn't write poetry for children, as most of my other favorite poets do. No, this one writes fairly grown-up stuff. I'm not usually as big a fan of grown-up stuff as I am of childish stuff. Maybe that's because I spend enough time as a grown-up in my actual life. In reading, and in writing, I like to be a kid!
But Billy Collins (that's my new favorite poet's name) is special. I love the way he writes. In so many of the poems I have read by him so far, his words transform ordinary moments into works of art. His words draw me in, make me see myself reflected on the page. They unveil the beauty and wonder in the everyday.
I'm reminded of a painting that hangs on the wall in my parents' house. It's a still life, a painting of fruit. My mother always said she didn't like still life paintings. She said she would never want a painting of "dead fruit" hanging on her wall. But there was something about this painting that drew her to it, that made her see life in those strokes of oil paint on canvas.
Like that platter of fruit, a moment spent eating a bowl of cereal in the morning is the picture of ordinary. But Billy Collins captures just one of those moments with a stroke of poetic genius in his poem, "A Portrait of the Reader with a Bowl of Cereal," which happens to be the first poem in his book Picnic, Lightning.
Here is an excerpt of that poem:
Every morning I sit across from you
at the same small table,
the sun all over the breakfast things—
curve of a blue-and-white pitcher,
a dish of berries—
me in a sweatshirt or robe,
You can read the rest of "A Portrait of the Reader with a Bowl of Cereal" here. I hope you will read it, and perhaps discover, if you haven't already, the beauty that is Billy Collins' poetry.