Garrison Keillor is a polarizing figure. There are people I love and respect with every ounce of my being who think Keillor is odious. I, on the other hand, have a huge, massive, fan-girl crush on the man. Love him, love him, love him. Eat him up with a spoon. Good gravy, when he announced he'll be retiring soon, I fell into a catatonic gloom.
When I first met Roommate (nine years ago this May!), we instantly bonded over our mutual love of the tv show Ed and of Prairie Home Companion. Together we've made two pilgrimages to St. Paul to see PHC live, and we saw PHC when it came to New Orleans.
One of the most memorable nights of my life was on New Year's Eve just after Katrina. Roommate and I decided to splurge, and we bought tickets to Keillor's New Year's Eve dinner and show up in St. Paul. Keillor, ever the good host, made his rounds during dinner to all the tables. And when when he found out we were from New Orleans (and had met him briefly during his New Orleans show), he spent extra time with us. It just felt so special. And then the show itself? Brilliant and beautiful and moving and seriously one of the best ways I can think of to ring in the new year. A new year after such a damned awful year. And perhaps the best part of that night? Billy Collins.
On Thursday, Garrison Keillor will interview Billy Collins at the Kentucky Center. Collins was our Poet Laureate from 2001-03 and is seriously the most accessible, enjoyable living American poet, in my most humble and perhaps limited opinion. You don't like poetry, you say? You'll like Collins. He's charming and smart and funny, and while I have a super special place in my heart for 2004-06 Laureate Ted Kooser (what a nice guy... and if you were on his mailing list, you got a love poem every Valentine's Day... swoon), Collins may be my favorite living Laureate.
I bought my tickets as soon as the event was announced. Which turned out to be a good thing because the event has been so popular, they're now simulcasting it to other theaters. So go. Seriously. Go.
BTW: Who is our current Laureate? Kay Ryan. Who wrote a poem that was on my fridge for years and which comforted me during the loss of some of the most important people in my life. Read "Things Shouldn't Be So Hard" here on Keillor's "Writers' Almanac" web page.