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Former Poet Laureate Billy Collins reads his poem 'Introduction to Poetry'


T.S. Eliot wrote that April is the cruelest month. It also happens to be National Poetry Month. Many schoolchildren will be admonished to pay attention to poetry these next few weeks - read, analyze, dissect, discuss - which, of course, may not be a wise way to let someone discover the joy, delight and comfort of poems. I've wondered if teachers shouldn't say, whatever you do, don't read a poem. Don't even think about it. Don't anyone bring home a poem. Billy Collins, a former poet laureate of the United States who still teaches poetry in university classrooms, wrote a poem about trying to light a love of poetry in his "Introduction To Poetry."

BILLY COLLINS: (Reading) I ask them to take a poem and hold it up to the light like a color slide or press an ear against its hive. I say, drop a mouse into a poem and watch him probe his way out or walk inside the poem's room and feel the walls for a light switch. I want them to water-ski across the surface of a poem waving at the author's name on the shore. But all they want to do is tie the poem to a chair with rope and torture a confession out of it. They begin beating it with a hose to find out what it really means.

SIMON: Billy Collins and his "Introduction To Poetry."