Poet Laureate Collins Takes his Cue on Evil

Donna Masini with Poet Laureate Billy Collins.
Poet Laureate Billy Collins read several poems during his featured performance to a delighted audience at the kick-off event of the “CUNY is Reading” initiative on October 15. One poem, a sandwich of somber on wry, was titled “Evil”—his newest creation. Before he read it, the Distinguished Professor at Lehman College observed that helpful souls are always coming up and telling him, “You should write a poem about [fill in the blank]!” But 99.9 per cent of the time, he said, such proposals leave him sullenly thinking, “I’ll be the judge of that!”

Hunter College professor of English and fellow poet Donna Masini, however, beat those frightening odds. On a poetry panel with Collins recently on writing about the unspeakable, she had occasion to recall her sister giving her a big plaster cast of that familiar trio of primates who see, hear, and speak no evil. Then she turned to Collins and opined, “You should write about this!” To his surprise, he actually did. Hence, “Evil”—which, it is hoped, will be in the Collins volume that follows his latest collection, Nine Horses, just published by Random House.

Collins is seen with Masini at the reception following the reading, which took place in Grace Rainey Rodgers Audition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art under the aegis of Executive Vice Chancellor Louise Mirrer.
To view streaming video highlights of the evening, visit cuny.edu/news.

Contents October 2002

$7.5M State Grant Launches Incubator Network

Students Reaping Benefits of Technology Fee

Georgian Elegance, 21st-Century Technology Joined in Reborn Brooklyn College Library

Launching LaGuardia Students Toward Animal Planet

From ’60s Activist Ranks to Executive Suite

Digging the City’s Past

Poet Laureate Collins Takes his Cue on Evil

A WWII Mobilization in The Tale of The Ticker

Subversive Feminist Julia De Burgos Celebrated at Hostos

Italian "Enemy Alien" Experience in WWWII

Museum at Queens College Spans Six Centuries of Art

Celebrating Scholarly “Pleasures of the Mind”

Valued Vets Toasted at the Central Office

CUNY Responds to Powell’s Call for More Minority Diplomats

LaGuardia and Lehman Honored for Freshman Year Programs

Former Brooklyn College Philosopher Turns Philanthropist