Unit 1 Original Poem (F)

Billy Collins Inspired Poetry, “Her”


The Quiet City

In this corner of the world

as I’m sitting down to bask in the sunlight, I notice how serene my environment is.

On this particular day, the city sounds all too quiet:

No gas guzzler vehicle starting in the distance, not a single buzzer on a phone going off, and an only occasional chirp from a shy bird or two.

All that I hear is thoughts moving across my mind like heavy traffic, and the gentle footsteps that patter on the ground.

This morning is odd,

I am only hearing the softness of the world, as if it’s resting.

It sounds oh so quiet that I ask a friend

Where might the city bustle have gone?


  • In this poem I was inspired by Billy Collins Her, which tells a moment of a man walking around his suburbs and taking in how loud the sounds around him actually are, such as the dog barks, the leafblowers, and the garbage trucks. 

  • I was also inspired by the simplicity of the poem and internal dialogue of the poem. In my poem, I focused on my location of Hong Kong, and talked about how unbearably quiet it was one day because I’m very used to the city noise. 


There is no noisier place than the suburbs,

someone once said to me

as we were walking along a fairway,

and every day is delighted to offer fresh evidence:

the chainsaw, the leaf-blower blowing

one leaf around an enormous house with columns,

on Mondays and Thursdays the garbage truck

equipped with air brakes, reverse beeper, and merciless grinder.

There’s dogs, hammers, backhoes

or serious earthmovers if today is not your day.

How can the birds get a peep

or a chirp in edgewise, I would like to know?

But this morning is different,

only a soft clicking sound

and the low talk of two workmen working

on the house next door, laying tile I am guessing.

Otherwise, all quiet for a change,

just the clicking of tiles being handled

and their talking back and forth in Spanish

then one of them asking in English

“What was her name?” and the silence of the other.

Great Poets Teaching Project (s)


About the Project

For the Great Poets Teaching Poet, we researched a Poet Laureate of the US, and then did a deep dive into the poet’s autobiography, style of poetry, and annotated 5-6 different works of poetry.

More Reflection

  • I feel that my GPTP went fairly well and I hope that the students listening took a lot out of the lessons I taught them about Billy Collins style of writing. I hope they understood how he was influenced by contemporaries, but found his niche in writing about mundane items and ordinary things in life, but then going into depth about them and having an underlying message or theme in the work. This is what makes his poetry accesible and easy to read.

Lesson Plan for Great Poets Teaching Project

  • Introduce Billy Collins career trajectory and talk briefly about his writing style (Estimated time: 2 minutes)
  • Introduce the poem “Litany” to group (20 seconds)
  • Read and Annotate Litany by Billy Collins as a group (5-7 mins)
  • Go over the annotations and discuss the poetic devices and subjects that are in the poem (4 minutes)
  • Watch Billy Collins read Litany out loud to gauge his tone when reading. Ask what the difference is between reading the poem and hearing him read it aloud (Deadpan, Monotonous voice)
  • Talk about Collins’ Calling Card his poetic devices and connect to his writing style (3 minutes)
  • Talking about how Billy Collins found his voice and writing style (his inspiration) (2-3 minutes)
  • Next, go into depth about the poetic devices found in his poem: Figurative language (metaphors, alliteration, imagery, and subject) 5 minutes
  • Key Takeaways, and essential information I wish my peers take away from my presentation: summarizing my content. (2-3 minutes)


Unit One Essential Question

EQ: How do poets and poetry invite us to see, feel, and experience the world?

Poets and poetry invite others to see, feel, and experience their world through their eyes. As poets use different poetic devices to convey or show their experience, the readers can get a sense and image of what the poet sees. By reading their poetry, we have a snapshot of a moment in their life, or in history that is from their very own perspective. Each poet has a distinct style or subject which only they can talk about in their own way, so we are experiencing their world from their point of view.

EQ: Can I invite others in to see the world through my own original eyes?

Yes! In class, we shared our very own original poems with others and the experience felt really intimate as some poems that we shared were personal and sensitive to talk about. Personally, I think that I was able to share my poems with other people that I’m not close with, which made the experience a lot more rewarding. Sometimes, I tell myself my work is not good or doesn’t make sense, but by sharing it with other people in a place with no judgment, it makes me feel more at ease, and comfortable to share with others.