Watching Republicans clutching their pearls to see the rapper Common invited to the White House on a poetry night Wednesday has revealed a party whose stars are grievously out of touch with the culture they hope to lead, as well as to culture in general, apparently. It is understandable that some would imagine if the Obamas convene a poetry night, the invitees would be the likes of Billy Collins or Elizabeth Alexander, who read a poem at the President’s inauguration.
Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins (Random House, 172 pp., $21.95) The associated press report of Billy Collins's appointment as poet laureate in June was a document of startling philistinism. Under the headline "Popular Poet Named U.S. Laureate," it began: "Billy Collins, a popular poet who makes money at the job, is becoming the 11th U.S.