NABOKV-L post 0006239, Thu, 29 Nov 2001 17:13:44 -0800

Poet Laureate Billy Collins & VN

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Billy Collins
Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2001 16:22:03 -0800

The new book of poems by the new Poet Laureate of the United States,
Billy Collins, is a runaway best seller. The title is "Picnic,
Lightning" (University of Pittsburgh Press). I knew at once that this
phrase came from Lolita, but mistakenly thought that it turned up in
Humbert's musing on what might befall Charlotte and others at Hour Glass
Lake. I finally located it on p.12 of the novel. When I browsed
Collins' collection in the store I thought with satisfaction (may God
forgive me) that he'd used the two words without attribution. But now
that I own the book, I am glad to say that Collins quotes the relevant
sentence as the epigraph to the title poem (p.24): "My very photogenic
mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning)when I was three."