Billy Collins

A camp friend sent Nancy Kurtz a poem called “The Lanyard” by Billy Collins.

A lanyard is a rope or cord, typically worn around the neck, shoulder, or wrist to carry an object, that is often made at summer camp during arts and crafts.

“I went to camp. My father owned a camp. There was a real common thread there,” she said.

She wanted to share the poem with the Moab Poets and Writers and began to do research on the poet Billy Collins.

“I thought he was a little known, obscure poet,” she said.

What she discovered is that Billy Collins is the most popular poet in America today.

Kurtz will share Billy Collins’ poems at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 15 at the Moab Poets and Writers monthly meeting at the Grand County Public Library.

Kurtz has been attending the Moab Poets and Writers meetings for the past year, enjoying presentations on a variety of poets and poetry. She was excited to present an evening on Billy Collins.

“I wanted to discuss his poetry,” Kurtz said. “What makes it so resonant? What is it in the collective that is drawing to this one person?”

Collins was the U.S. Poet Laureate for two terms. He’s been a regular guest on the Garrison Keillor show and read poetry with Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report. He has DVDs featuring him reading his own poetry.

“It’s already a bestseller,” Kurtz said. “He has popularized the idea of poetry by bringing it into the mainstream and making it a familiar thing.”

Kurtz said that he always starts a poem with things people can relate to, such as the lanyard.

Before a recitation of the poem “The Lanyard,” Collins referred to this technique to help relate to a larger idea.

“When you want to write about a topic that is rather large, you use an image as a point of intrigue, rather than taking on the topic in a frontal way,” Collins said.

Kurtz said that he “puts it together in a certain way and people eat it up.”

“He’s easy to take. He seems just like a guy, like someone I can talk to,” she said. “He has a very easy style.”

The event is open to the public for an evening of poetry and discussion.

“We usually get a pretty good group of people coming,” Kurtz said. “It’s a really nice evening I always enjoy it.”

Moab Poets and Writers have been active since 1997. Their mission is to foster fiction and nonfiction poetry and prose by promoting the literary arts as a resource for community involvement.

“You do not have to be a published writer to participate,” said Marcy Hafner, a member of Moab Poets and Writers. “We welcome anyone with the spirit and desire to explore our world through language.”

The group sponsors open mics, an evening of poetry and conversations and writing workshops.

The group has also published anthologies of local poets called Glyphs and Desert Voice.

Moab Poets and Writers will be hosting an open mic night Friday, Feb. 21 at Wake and Bake. Local writers are welcome to share a poem or prose, or sing a song. Social hour begins at 6:30 p.m.; reading time begins at 7 pm.

Work of two-term Poet Laureate to be presented at Moab Poets and Writers monthly meeting

“I thought he was a little known, obscure poet.” 

When: 6 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 15

Where: Grand County Public Library, 257 E. Center St.

More info: Presented by the Moab Poets and Writers and the Grand County Library