Billy Collins

  • Aired:  10/29/13
  •  | Views: 28,672

Billy Collins talks about his writing persona and the responsibilities of a poet laureate before joining Stephen in a joint reading from "Aimless Love." (7:19)

>> Colbert: WELCOME BACK,EVERYBODY.

MY GUEST TONIGHT, A TWO TERMPOET LAUREATE OF THE UNITED

STATES.

I WILL ASK HIM IF HE EVER SPIEDON GERMANY'S POET LAUREATE.

PLEASE WELCOME BILLY COLLINS.

[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]>> THANK YOU, THANK YOU VERY

MUCH.

>> GOOD TO SEE YOU.

>> YOU ARE WEARING A TIE.

THAT IS VERY -- OF YOU.

>> DISTINGUISHED.

>> DISTINGUISHED.

>> Colbert: WHATEVER.

>> YOU ARE THE POET, YOU ARE THEPOET, YOU ARE THE WORD SMITH.

>> THAT'S ME.

>> Colbert: TWO TERM POETLAUREATE OF THE UNITED STATES.

HOW DO YOU GET THAT GIG?

>> WELL, YOU GET A CALL FROM THELIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS AND IT HAS

NOTHING TO DO WITH THE WHITEHOUSE, WAY WANT TO MAKE THAT

CLEAR.

NOTHING TO DO WITH THE WHITEHOUSE.

>> Colbert: SO OBAMA SAYS.

OBAMA HAD NO AWARENESS YOU WERETHE POET LAUREATE, HE FOUND OUT

BY WATCHING THIS SHOW.

>> A COUPLE OF PRESIDENTS, ITWAS STARTED BY W.

>> Colbert: SO YOU ARE ONE OFTHE GOOD ONES.

YOU GO WITH THAT BOAT TRI.

NOW, I DON'T WANT TO START ACOMPETITION HERE BUT I ALSO HAD

ROBERT PINSKY A FEW TIMES WHOWAS THREE-TIME POET LAUREATE OF

THE UNITED STATES.

I AM KIND OF SLUMMING RIGHT NOW.

>> NOW YOU HAVE GOT A NEWCOLLECTION OF POETRY HERE CALLED

AIM LESS LOVE, NEW AND SELECTEDPOEMS.

BEFORE WE ACTUALLY GET INTO THENITTY-GRITTY, YOU HAVE BEEN

CALLED THE MOST POPULAR POET INAMERICA.

DOES THAT HURT?

>> WELL -->> Colbert: YOU KNOW WHAT I

MEAN.

>> IT IS GOOD FOR MYSELF-ESTEEM.

>> Colbert: AREN'T THE BESTPHOTOS THE ONES NOBODY READS AND

THEY DIE OF CONSUMPTION AT 25?

>> KEATS WAS A GREAT POET.

>> HE WAS NOT POPULAR IN HISTIME, THEY SAY HE DIED OF A BAD

REVIEW.

>> Colbert: ANYWAY.

>> ANYWAY, I THINK A HAPPY POETDOESN'T HAVE TO BE -- IT IS HARD

TO ACCOUNT FOR YOUR OWNPOPULARITY AND ONE IS I DON'T

DRAG PEOPLE INTO MY WORLD OFPERSONAL MISERY, I AM NOT AN

AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL POET.

>> Colbert: REALLY?

>> REALLY.

>> Colbert: SO IT IS ABOUT.

>> IT IS ABOUT WHAT MY PERSONAIS SAYING THESE WORDS.

IT IS NOT EXACTLY ME.

IT IS SORT OF AN IMPROVEMENT ONME.

>> Colbert: SO IT IS NOTEXACTLY YOU.

IT IS SOMEONE WITH YOUR SAMENAME BUT --

>> I UNDERSTAND THAT.

>> HE DOESN'T HAVE A JOFNLT HEDOESN'T TAKE OUT THE GARBAGE.

>> Colbert: DO YOU HAVE A JOB?

>> I HAVE A JOB.

>> Colbert: WHAT IS THE JOB OFTHE POET LAUREATE? WHAT ARE THE

ACTUAL RESPONSIBILITIES?

>> WELL, YOU DON'T HAVE TO WRITEWHAT THE BRITISH -- THE POEMS,

WHAT THE BRITISH POET LAUREATEDOES AND THE POET, THE POEM POET

LAUREATE WE BORROWED THAT FROMTHE BRITISH AND THE REASON THEY

HAVE ONE IS BECAUSE FOR 400YEARS BEFORE CAMERAS AND ANY

RECORDING DEVICES, IF THERE WASA LARGE EVENT, LIKE A CORONATION

OR A BEHEADING OR -->> Colbert: OF COURSE A

BEHEADING WAS LIKE THE SUPERBOWL.

>> PUBLIC HANGS SO THE POETLAUREATE WOULD COMMEMORATE THIS

EVENT IN VERSE AND THERE BYSTORE IT IN THE NATIONAL MEMORY.

SO NOW WE HAVE OTHER WAYS OFDOING THAT.

WE REALLY DON'T NEED A POETLAUREATE, BUT IT CONTINUES.

AND I AM HAPPY ABOUT THAT.

>> Colbert: DO YOU GETANYTHING GOOD? DO YOU GET

ANYTHING GOOD THAT COMES WIT.

>> YES, YOU GET A COOL OFFICE INTHE JEFFERSON LIBRARY, THE

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, THEJEFFERSON BUILDING, IT IS UP IN

WHAT THEY CALL THE ATTIC BUT ITHAS A BALCONY, IT IS PRETTY

NICE.

AND -->> Colbert: OTHER POETRY, ARE

THERE POET GROUPIES, BECAUSE YOUMUST BE DRIPPING.

>> WELL, THE PHONE NUMBER RANGETHERE WHEN I WAS POET LAUREATE

-- I WAS IN GREAT DEMAND.

>> Colbert: YOU HAD TO CUT THEWIRE TO GIVE YOURSELF PEACE.

YOU HAVE GOT A POEM IN HERE, THETITLE POEM, ACTUALLY, AIM LESS

LOVE.

>> UH-HUH.

>> Colbert: IN IT, IT IS ABOUTSOMEONE WHO FALLS IN LOVE WITH A

BAR OF SOAP.

>> RIGHT.

>> Colbert: AT THE CONCLUSIONOF IT.

IS THAT BASED ON SOMETHING THATHAPPENED TO YOU? OR IS THAT AN

AMALGAM OF VARIOUS BATH PRODUCTSYOU HAVE HAD OVER THE YEARS?

BECAUSE.

>> I HAD A SERIOUS RELATIONSHIPWITH A LUFFA FOR A WHILE.

>> Colbert: ARE YOU DESCRIBINGYOURSELF THERE?

>> THIS IS A PARTICULAR BAR OFSOAP.

>> Colbert: YEAH.

>> A PARTICULAR INCIDENT AND IFELT AN AFFECTION I COULDN'T

EXPLAIN EXCEPT IN POETRY.

>> THERE IS A SHOW ON TELEVISIONTHAT ACTUALLY READS POETRY ON

THE AIR.

>> Colbert: UNHEARD OF.

>> NOT SINCE JANUARY PARR.

>> JACK PARR I WOULD LOVE TOREAD A POEM OF YOURS.

>> WOULD YOU?

[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]>> Colbert: I LIKE THIS ONE.

I LIKE THIS ONE.

HER READ A VERSE AND YOU READ AVERSE.

THIS ONE GOES, THIS IS PAGE 189,TO MY FAVORITE 17-YEAR-OLD HIGH

SCHOOL GIRL.

>> OKAY.

>> Colbert:LY START AND YOUGO.

>> OKAY.

>> Colbert: DO YOU REALIZETHAT IF YOU HAD STARTED BUILDING

A PART NONON THE DAY YOU WERE,PARTHENON YOU WOULD BE DONE IN

ONLY ONE MORE YEAR, OF COURSEYOU COULDN'T HAVE DONE IT ALONE,

SO NEVER MIND, YOU ARE FINE JUSTAS YOU ARE, YOU ARE LOVED SIMPLY

FOR BEING YOURSELF.

.. BUT DID YOU KNOW THAT AT YOURAGE JUDY GARLAND WAS PULLING

DOWN $150,000 A PICTURE? JOANOF ARC WAS LEADING THE FRENCH

ARMY TO VICTORY AND PASCUAL HADCLEANED UP HIS ROOM, NO, I MEAN

HE INVENTED THE CALCULATOR.

>> OF COURSE, THERE WILL BETIMES FOR ALL OF THAT LATER IN

YOUR LIFE AFTER YOU COME OUT OFYOUR ROOM AND BEGIN TO BLOSSOM,

OR AT LEAST PICK UP ALL OF YOURSOCKS.

>> FOR SOME REASON I KEEPREMEMBERING LADY JANE GRAY WAS

QUEEN OF ENGLAND WHEN SHE WASONLY 15.

BUT THEN SHE WAS BEHEAD SODNEVER MIND HER AS WELL AS A ROLE

MODEL.

>> Colbert: A FEW CENTURIESLATER WHEN HE WAS YOUR AGE FRANZ

SCHUBERT WAS DOING THE DISHESFOR HIS FAMILY, THAT DID NOT

KEEP HIM FROM COMPLETINGSYMPHONIES AND MUCH MORE AS A

YOUNGSTER.

>> HER SIMILAR IS NOT HERE INTHE SUBURBS OF CLEVELAND.

>> Colbert: FRANKLY, WHO CARESIF ANNIE OAKLEY WAS A CRACK SHOT

AT 15 OR MAYA DEBUTED AT TOFSKAAT 17, WE THINK YOU ARE SPECIAL

JUST BEING YOU, PLAYING WITHYOUR FOOD AND STARING INTO

SPACE.

BY THE WAY, I LIED ABOUTSCHUBERT DOING THE DISHES.

BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN HE NEVERHELPED OUT AROUND THE HOUSE.

A.

[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]>> Colbert: BILLY COLLINS.

WE WILL BE RIGHT BACK!