The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

December 26, 2013

December 26

Billy Collins (born March 22, 1941 in New York City) the American writer, is sometimes associated, in the public mind, with Garrison Keillor, and it is "The Writer's Almanac" where I got today's poem which mentions cats, and was written by Billy Collins. It will of course be Christmas til January 6, and so our selection is seasonal and timely. First some sketch of the poet's life, from

...Collins... is an American poet, appointed as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. He is a Distinguished Professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York and is the Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute, Florida. Collins was recognized as a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library (1992) ...

Collins ....received his M.A. and Ph.D in English from the University of California, Riverside..

.... Additionally, he is a founding Advisory Board member of the CUNY Institute for Irish-American Studies at Lehman College. .....He is on the advisory board at the Southern Review....

Billy Collins has been called "The most popular poet in America" by the
New York Times. When he moved from the University of Pittsburgh Press to Random House, the advance he received shocked the poetry world — a six-figure sum for a three-book deal, virtually unheard of in poetry. The deal secured for Collins through his literary agent, Chris Calhoun of Sterling Lord Literistic, with the editor Daniel Menaker, remained the talk of the poetry world, and indeed the literary world, for quite some time. 

We excerpt from his poem titled "Christmas Sparrow":

The first thing I heard this morning
wings against glass as it turned out
downstairs when I saw the small bird
rioting in the frame of a high window,
trying to hurl itself through
the enigma of glass into the spacious light.

Then a noise in the throat of the cat
who was hunkered on the rug

told me how the bird had gotten inside,
carried in the cold night
through the flap of a basement door,
and later released from the soft grip of teeth.
I trapped its pulsations
in a shirt and got it to the door,
... outside, when I uncupped my hands,
it burst into its element,
dipping over the dormant garden
in a spasm of wingbeats
then disappeared over a row of tall hemlocks.


My excisions often savage a text. I don't worry about that so much when you have, as most of you have, read the text in the original in "The Writer's Almanac." Merriment and confetti to all this season.

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