Shannon & Collins

Randy, Bettie, Billy Collins, Mike Shannon and Diane, c. 1975.

Things livened up considerably at 98 Bowery with the arrival in 1971 of Mike Shannon, another of our art friends from the University of California at Riverside. Combining a burly working-class swagger with a soft poetic soul, Mike was a lively addition to serious discussions and rowdy parties alike. In New York, he found work as an art handler for the famous Marlborough Gallery, and wrote poems about his adventures in the city’s bars and streets.

Mike’s poetic side was inspired by Billy Collins, another friend from UCR, who in later years would become America’s Poet Laureate. With Mike living for long stretches at 98 Bowery, Billy was a frequent visitor who drove down from the small cottage he rented on an estate in Westchester. The Billy and Mike show was never dull. Usually fueled by prodigious amounts of alcohol, their madcap repartee included Lord Buckley imitations, choruses from Rolling Stones songs, and tales inspired by Charles Bukowski.

The publication in 1975 of the first issue of the Mid-Atlantic Review, co-edited by Billy, was a celebratory event at the loft. For Shannon it was a fantasy come true, his first published poems alongside those by Collins and Bukowski! The following year, with Billy’s help, Mike had another triumph, the publication of Movies For The Blind, a full volume of his poems.

Mike Shannon, c. 1970

Mike in the photobooth on Mott Street, c. 1972

Mike shaving, c. 1970.

Billy Collins, c. 1971.

Billy and Mike losing at strip poker, c. 1973.

Billy in a San Jose State Men’s Physical Education t-shirt, c. 1972.


The Mid-Atlantic Review, Summer 1975. Co-edited by Billy Collins.

Billy’s poem from The Mid-Atlantic Review, Summer 1975 issue.

Mike’s poem from The Mid-Atlantic Review, Summer 1975 issue.

Mike Shannon, Movies For The Blind, Country Press, New York, 1976

Mike Shannon, College Days (Riverside, 1967), from Movies for the Blind.