Not just any Billy Collins, but Billy Collins Billy Collins — prototypical Billy Collins, the Billy Collins. Who I’m posting about here because one of his poems prominently features the morphological construction Contrastive Focus Reduplication, or CFR (which I’m going to cite in a forthcoming posting about two New Yorker cartoons on dating).

The poem (on this site):

After the Funeral

When you told me you needed a drink-drink
and not just a drink like a drink of water,

I steered you by the elbow into a corner bar,
which turned out to be a real bar-bar,

dim and nearly empty with little tables in the back
where we drank and agreed that the funeral

was a real funeral-funeral complete with a Mass,
incense and tons of eulogies.

You know, I always considered Tom a real
friend-friend, you said, lifting your drink-drink

to your lips, and I agreed that Tom
was much more than just an ordinary friend.

We also concurred that Angela’s black dress
was elegant but not like elegant-elegant,

just elegant enough. And a few hours later
when the bartender brought yet another round

of whiskies to our table in the corner
we recognized by his apron and his mighty girth

that he was more than just a bartender.
A true bartender-bartender was what he was

we decided, with a respectful clink-clink
of our drink-drinks, amber in a chink of afternoon light.

The phenomenon: CFR is a morphological construction in which a word is reduplicated (that is, doubled), with contrastive accent on the first element, to indicate that the word is being used in its prototypical sense: DRINK-drink referring to a prototypical drink ‘something alcoholic to drink’ vs. a plain drink, drink ‘something to drink’. Coming soon: DATE-date referring to a prototypical date ‘romantic appointment or engagement’ vs. a plain date, date or friend date ‘social appointment or engagement’.

There is (now) a CFR Page on this blog.

Billy Collins: the poet, from Wikipedia:


William James Collins, known as Billy Collins, (born March 22, 1941) is an American poet, appointed as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. In 2016, Collins retired from his position as a Distinguished Professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York after teaching there almost 50 years.

From the Poetry Foundation site:

Dubbed “the most popular poet in America” by Bruce Weber in the New York Times, Billy Collins is famous for conversational, witty poems that welcome readers with humor but often slip into quirky, tender or profound observation on the everyday, reading and writing, and poetry itself.

… Collins’s level of fame is almost unprecedented in the world of contemporary poetry

Two more Collins poems, not particularly language-related:



July/August 2007, “Old Man Eating Alone in a Chinese Restaurant”:


Another Billy Collins: the boxer,  from Wikipedia:

(#4) Collins at age 21, before the Resto bout; he died in a car crash at age 22 (I’m sparing you the fight photos)

William Ray [“Billy”] Collins Jr. (September 21, 1961 – March 6, 1984) was an American professional boxer who competed from 1981 to 1983. His career was cut short after his final fight when he sustained serious injuries against an opponent [Luis Resto] who used illegal, tampered gloves and hands which had been soaked in plaster of Paris.

Depending on your background and interests, BILLY COLLINS Billy Collins refers to one or the other of these two men. And not, for instance, to any of these men:

Billy Collins, a CrossFitter (link)

Billy Collins, a realtor in Charlotte NC (link)

Billy Collins of Paducah KY, in this obituary

Billy Collins of Grants Pass OR, in this obituary

Billy Collins, a Boston Univ. basketball player (link)

Billy Collins, a player for Hockey Wales (link)

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