The poet Billy Collins’ latest book was released in September, Whale Day. As I do with every new Collins collection, I’m reading it slowly, treating it like the candy dish it is. Most evenings I dip in for a poem or two, often reading them aloud to my wife and the dog.
Nearing his 80th birthday, it amazes me how Collins continues to produce thoughtful, insightful, and edgy work. In this collection I find him yet more introspective, pushing his aesthetic a little further––a twist here, a turn there. It’s a delight to read.
That said, as I approach this collection––reading as I do, as a writer––I’m reminded that Collins has mastered that skill all writers (perhaps especially poets?) must master: the sensibility to wrangle and capture those moments that trigger the eye or heart, those moments in which the common man simply shrugs, grunts, and ambles on.
And this is the take-away for writers of all genres. Don’t let those moments that cause you pause to simply slip by and slide downstream. Grab a detail, a perspective, or an image from those experiences and use them to anchor your writing. Your writerly perception is a skill you must hone, for you are not like all the other lookers-on. You are a writer.