The eccentric actor, who is a supporter of the New York Poets House literary centre, recently took up an invitation from America's Oprah magazine's books editor Leigh Harber to publish a selection of his favourite poems in the publication.

Typically Bill, who is famous among Hollywood stars for not relying on the services of an agent, only responded to her just before the magazine's deadline day.

Bill told Jimmy how he had phoned a surprised Leigh and arranged to meet with her at his house to talk poetry, telling Jimmy, "She was there in like a half an hour and we did this thing in like an hour...I read the poems and she was a really sweet lady."

The Groundhog Day star then proceeded to give a live TV reading of one of his favourite poems, What The Mirror Said by the Pulitzer Prize nominated, African-American poet Lucille Clifton, which he introduced by saying, "Her stuff's just incredible, it's just unbelieveable."

The poem, which refers to a woman looking in a mirror and affirming her looks begins, "listen, you a wonder. you a city of a woman. you got a geography of your own."

Jimmy and Bill also discussed the poet Jim Harrison who died last month (Mar16) and was an acquaintance of the actor.

Speaking about the meeting which saw the star contribute his poems to her magazine, Leigh Harber indicated her amazement at what an expert on poetry he was.

"It was so funny," she told the Associated Press. "He had scraps of paper on which he'd scribbled notes and Xeroxes of poems. His love of poetry was obvious from how much pleasure he took in reading the poems aloud to us."

Bill's collection of poems, published in the April (16) issue of Oprah to coincide with U.S. National Poetry Month, also includes other works by poets including Thomas Lux and Galway Kinnell.