billy collins doesn’t like me

The first annual Tucson Festival of Books was this weekend. Saturday I went for pleasure, Sunday I went as a volunteer. It was a pretty great event–not perfect, but especially awesome for the first year. I, dork that I am, went on Saturday dressed in my Marcus Flutie shirt, and Megan McCafferty definitely noticed it when she signed my book. It was sweet. She also spoke for an hour about writing, and like any good author does (Megan McCafferty and Rachel Cohn are hands down the best current YA writers, though technically Megan is an adult writer–another reason why she’s an awesome YA writer, if you can understand me), made me want to get back to my writing. Too bad it’s still lost on that broken harddrive in my bottom drawer 😦

Still, it was a wonderful event. I now have a New York Times t-shirt. Very useful, I know. I also have a tent of a volunteer shirt from yesterday, which I promptly took off because it was too hard to move my arms in a men’s large. AND I have various other goodies, like Bookman’s tote bags. Whatever.

The Billy Collins reading was fabulous. Too bad the audience wasn’t. I have a huge problem with annoying audiences, and I feel like often, baby boomers are incredibly annoying to sit near. My parents are baby boomers, and they’re not obnoxious, but I think it’s inappropriate to continually guffaw at every other line of a poem, even if it is funny. This isn’t a comedy club, and though it’s one thing to chuckle or laugh occasionally, cracking up at everything that was even slightly funny meant a) I wanted to smack lots and lots of people and b) I couldn’t hear the next line of the effing poem. Shut up, people. But who cares, because Collins still writes great stuff, and his voice is awesome. I was wondering why it sounded familiar and then it hit me: Kevin Spacey. I’m not sure if Collins’ life is interesting enough for a biopic, but if it is, Spacey must play him. They have the exact same voice. Same monotony, same dry, wry way of being funny. Awesome.

His interjections about his poems were kind of the best part. Writers are some of the most interesting people to speak, especially poets, because you’re so used to ascribing your own voice to their work. I was actually surprised to find him so funny, not because I missed seeing the humor in his poems, but just because I read them as wry, not direct humor. He had two that I think are as yet unpublished, one called “Migraine” or “Hangover,” he said, depending on what feeling you’re more familiar with, that was hilarious, and another about the phrase that has already been kicked out of slang standing for “OMG,” which was a clever poem, but I think it needs work because he had to explain quite a lot of it before he actually read the few lines. But it was funny. Like a joke. Then it was okay to laugh. But other times, I think chuckling would have been far less annoying.

So afterwards I stood in line, which was also annoying, because it made me think of the Jason Mraz concert and about how famous people tend to get snobby and forget how to be gracious. I understand that it’s more efficient to have your book open to the page that needs to be signed, but sticking a post-it with my name in it seemed a bit much, and even more was the “volunteers” who took my book from me and opened it. I have had a book signed before, thanks. I’ve also read a book before, and I know what a title page is, thanks.

But again, who cares, right? Billy Collins. But I think he hates me. He saw my name, and he informed me that it was the same backwards and forwards, and we both acknowledged that it was a palindrome. I really like it when people tell me that about my name, because I’ve never written it before, so I would never have noticed. He said, “I’m going to show you the best palindrome,” and I was pretty excited, because a poet was going to tell me something, and not only is he a former poet laureate (I think you get to always keep the title, kind of like president) but he also has a PhD. so he starts writing “I love m–” and I go, “I love me, volume one.” (Spelled “I love me, vol. I,” it is a pretty sweet palindrome that is also the title of a book of palindromes.)

So he looks up and goes, “Oh. You’ve heard it.”

Oops. So much for being gracious. Foot in mouth, poet laureate crossed off list of future friends.

Still, a pretty wonderful festival over all. Can’t wait till I’m a guest there.

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One thought on “billy collins doesn’t like me

  1. well as author of that best palindrome & book
    i have nothing against you for rendering them into little sweets
    in their laureate moment of truth
    & indeed i thank you for it & for the story & cameo role

    i have a young adult only child named hannah i also love

    best
    ak md sws etc

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