Dec 122013

In this episode of the Wait Wait… We’ve invited Billy Collins — who served as U.S. poet laureate from 2001 to 2003 — to play a game called, “I can feel it coming in the air tonight.” Three questions about musician Phil Collins.

And now the game where we ask somebody who has accomplished a lot to try his hand at accomplishing one more thing. It’s called Not My Job.
Billy Collins is the most acclaimed poet in America today. He was the country’s Poet Laureate from 2001 to 2003. Now, we could try to describe what his poetry is like aesthetically, but this is 21st century America. So let’s just say that poetry is like song lyrics except they don’t rhyme, and you talk them. Billy Collins, welcome to WAIT WAIT…DON’T TELL ME!
BILLY COLLINS: It’s great to be here, thank you. That’s not a bad description.
SAGAL: I think so. The first thing I have to ask is: Did you find that a folksy, friendly name like Billy Collins was an obstacle to you in your poetry career?
COLLINS: No, well, I actually adopted that name because there is a Romantic poet, English Romantic poet, whose name is William Collins.
SAGAL: Really?
COLLINS: So actually, I’ll just tell you – your audience can’t listen to this on the radio – but when I was in college, I thought you needed to have a very literary name. So I called myself W. James Collins.
SAGAL: See, that’s what I would expect.
COLLINS: Yeah, but then I downshifted to Billy because there is a William, and also I just got more relaxed with my poetry. So I didn’t – William sounds like the name of a king to me.
SAGAL: Right.
TOM BODETT: That’s the same reason I went with Tom Bodett.

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