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Billy Collins: On the Road with the Poet Laureate
Billy Collins: On the Road with the Poet Laureate
About the film
  • Year
  • Categories
  • Duration 59 minutes
  • Producer Edgar Howard
  • Director Richard Woodward

Billy Collins is perhaps the first American poet since Robert Frost to enjoy both critical and popular acclaim.

This 59-minute documentary captures the qualities that make Collins such a refreshing literary figure. With a film crew trailing him from poetry readings and college classrooms to his home, office, and even into his car, he manages to remain amazingly witty, gracious, and open in discussing his life, his work, and the nature of poetry itself.

Interviews with distinguished poets and critics Edward Hirsch and Richard Howard, Librarian of Congress Dr. James Billington, and Random House editor Daniel Menaker lend new perspectives on Collins’s achievement.

This is also the first documentary to explore the cultural role of the U.S. Poet Laureate, a position that Collins held between 2001-03. He is joined by former poets laureate Robert Hass, Rita Dove, and Robert Pinsky at the 2002 Dodge Poetry Festival for an amusing series of reflections on the history of this unique position, which is both a literary honor and a quasi-government position, as persuasive or as irrelevant as the writer chooses to make it.

A writer of warmth and surreal humor whose voice is nonetheless inflected with the dark tones of what Frost called “moral panic,” Collins can be seen and heard here reading some of his most famous poems, including “Introduction to Poetry,” “Forgetfulness,” “Lanyard,” and “Nightclub.”

Students of poetry, and Collins’ many fans, will find much here that entertains and illuminates.

Winner, Best Documentary – 2004 Westchester Film Festival

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