How to Make God Laugh

Billy Collins read poems and talked about poetry tonight at Denver University. Gates Hall, which holds 900 people, was nearly full, and the former U.S. Poet Laureate did not disapoint. He read a mix of funny and serious poems, which is the same mix found in each of his poems on its own. He said his personal failings are sentimentalism and sarcasm, so he is always calibrating his work to avoid falling too far toward one or the other. “If there was a blackboard here, I would now go write the word ‘irony,'” he said.

One student, admitting that he was being “ostentatious” in the question period, asked if he could read Collins a short poem and have him critique it on the spot. “I’d say that’s presumptuous, not ostentatious, so we need to start right off looking at language,” Collins said pleasantly, “but go ahead.” The poem was terrible, but Collins kindly noted it had decent rhythm. He also said its title, “Poem,” needed work, and that an image involving an angel was “cartoonlike and painful.” I could barely breathe during this exchange, but we all lived through it. Another youngster asked if Collins writes all the time. “I’m not always writing, but I’m always waiting,” he answered. In my collection of Collins’s books in my study, I can’t find my favorite poem of the evening, one in which a dog of the speaker comes back from the dead to say he never liked his owner. It was a Swiftian sendup of every maudlin portrayal of man’s best friend in the history of literature, simply brilliant, and in the end, the best ode to canines I’ve ever heard.

Collins said the Poet Laureate gig appeared to be a plot by the government to silence one poet for two years, but his office had a nice view of the Capitol. “The phone never rang once,” he told us. Asked why he doesn’t write more political poems, Collins said they tend to have a short shelf life and are driven more by will than imagination, so they are less fun to write. As for the Poets Against the War movement which was launched during his watch, Collins said, “It was like ‘Generals FOR the War’–it was just too obvious.”

He wandered through his poems in a spontaneous way, and his responses seemed to amuse himself as much as his audience. At one point, he posed the question of how you make God laugh. His answer: Make a plan.

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3 Responses to How to Make God Laugh

  1. Anonymous says:

    Should be “presumptuous” – not “presumptious”.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Should be “disappoint” – not “dissapoint”.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This article works very well with my child, hope you find it useful too.

    north scott press
    north scott press

    Children with ADHD

    There is a perplexing state of affairs in today’s society, there lies a strong correlation between the affluence of a society and the amount of disease that is present. There is also another correlation that troubles many a people and that is with affluence comes disease at an Earlier age.

    Working with children and the parents of these children I often get asked the question, ‘Why are Children with ADHD on the increase?’

    The answer as you shall find is one that is both interesting and challenging.

    Children of today are really no more different from the children of yesterday in terms of genetic makeup. However, if you examine the issue more closely you will tend to find that many children today have been given labels. For example, ‘Oh, those are children with ADHD’ or ‘Those are the children who can’t sit still.’ Or ‘That is the kid that always gets into trouble.’

    These labels are not only destructive but also become a self fulfilling prophecy as it is repeated adnauseum.

    So as a 21st century parent or a parent with a child with ADHD or a parent with children with ADHD, what knowledge framework do you need to equip yourself with to ensure your children live out their true potential?

    Here is a quick reference list for thinking about ADHD
    ? ADHD is a source of great frustration because it is misunderstood
    ? ADHD medications are a great short term time buying device and should be avoided long term
    ? The above point goes for any sort of drug consumption. Think about it for a minute. Unless you have a biochemical deficiency in your body like Type 1 diabetes where your body fails to produce enough insulin or any at all, why would you take an external drug? A body that is in balance is totally healthy. It is only when the body is out of balance that dis-ease symptoms start to creep up.
    ? ADHD is a biochemical imbalance of the mind and body.
    ? The Head of Psychiatry in Harvard states that drugs for ADHD simply mask the effects of ADHD. It does not cure ADHD. This is an important point because a cure implies never to have to take the medication. This means that once you start on medication you will have to be on it for the rest of your life i.e. you have medically acquired a dependency for a biochemical imbalance. That is like stuffing all your rubbish (problematic behaviors) into a closet (medication) where no one can see it. But if you continue to stuff more rubbish into that closet, one day you will not have enough space and need to do one of two things. You either empty the rubbish (the natural conclusion) or you get a bigger closet (i.e. change to stronger medication to control the symptoms). The choice is obvious but sometimes when you don’t have the necessary tools to deal with ADHD you tend to think the bigger closet is the only option.
    ? ADHD children are super sensitive to the emotions around them. Often they pick up emotional cues from their parents without realizing. Many parents come home frustrated or annoyed from work, the child with ADHD picks this up and starts to ’cause trouble’ by becoming restless. Parents frustration increase because they just want some peace and quiet. They get angry which in turn is picked up by the child who then intensifies their activity. Things get way out of hand and some sort of punishment is handed down to the child who has no idea what just happened. The cycle repeats itself every so often.
    ? Our brains are wired emotionally. Positive praise is interpreted as an analytical/thinking exercise. Negative criticism including scolding, name calling, physical punishment all go directly to the emotional brain of children with ADHD. This means in order to ensure you get your message across in the most optimal way, you need to learn how to communicate with your ADHD children the way they like to be communicated with.
    ? Every negative comment requires 16 positive comments to neutralize the emotion. Save yourself the frustration and agitation by practicing positive communication.

    The list is by no means complete. In dealing with children with ADHD there are a certain set of behavioural principles to follow. I will detail these steps in the coming weeks. I’ll also build on the list as you continue to learn about what appears to be a mystical disorder known as ‘Children with ADHD’

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