Synopses & Reviews
NEW YORK TIMES
“Billy Collins puts the ‘fun’ back in ‘profundity.’ ” — Alice Fulton
From the two-term Poet Laureate of the United States Billy Collins comes his first compilation of new and selected poems in twelve years. Aimless Love combines more than fifty new poems with selections from four previous books—Nine Horses, The Trouble with Poetry, Ballistics, and Horoscopes for the Dead. Collins’s unmistakable voice, which brings together plain speech with imaginative surprise, is clearly heard on every page, reminding us how he has managed to enrich the tapestry of contemporary poetry and greatly expand its audience. His work is featured in top literary magazines such as The New Yorker, Poetry, and The Atlantic, and he sells out reading venues all across the country. Appearing regularly in The Best American Poetry series, his poems appeal to readers and live audiences far and wide and have been translated into more than a dozen languages. By turns playful, ironic, and serious, Collins’s poetry captures the nuances of everyday life while leading the reader into zones of inspired wonder. In the poet’s own words, he hopes that his poems “begin in Kansas and end in Oz.” Touching on the themes of love, loss, joy, and poetry itself, these poems showcase the best work of this “poet of plenitude, irony, and Augustan grace” (The New Yorker).
Go, little book,
out of this house and into the world,
carriage made of paper rolling toward town
bearing a single passenger
beyond the reach of this jittery pen
and far from the desk and the nosy gooseneck lamp.
It is time to decamp,
put on a jacket and venture outside,
time to be regarded by other eyes,
bound to be held in foreign hands.
So off you go, infants of the brain,
with a wave and some bits of fatherly advice:
stay out as late as you like,
don’t bother to call or write,
and talk to as many strangers as you can.
“In selections from his four most recent collections...and fifty-one glimmering new poems, former poet laureate and reader favorite Collins, the maestro of the running-brook line and the clever pivot, celebrates the resonance and absurdity of what might be called the poet’s attention-surfeit disorder....But Collins’ droll wit is often a diversionary tactic, so that when he strikes you with the hard edge of his darker visions, you reel.” Booklist
Praise for Map
New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice
"Both plain-spoken and luminous…Szymborska’s skepticism, her merry, mischievous irreverence and her thirst for the surprise of fresh perception make her the enemy of all tyrannical certainties. Hers is the best of the Western mind—free, restless, questioning.”--New York Times Book Review
"Vast, intimate, and charged with the warmth of a life fully imagined to the end, there’s no better place for those unfamiliar with her work to begin."--Megan O'Grady, Vogue
“Listening to Clare Cavanagh speak of translation as an art is a reminder that translators must be as adept as poets at working with words...Map is not only impressive because of Szymborska’s precise, intimate, and observationally funny poems...but because of Cavanagh and Baranczak’s tireless dedication in bringing them to English without sacrificing their forms."--Jacob Victorine, Publishers Weekly Profile
"Nobel laureate Szymborska’s gorgeous posthumous collection, translated and edited by her confidant, Cavanagh, with Baranczak, includes more than 250 poems, selected from 13 books, dating back to 1952, as well as previously unreleased poems from as far back as 1944. This revered Polish poet, who came to fame well after the poet Charles Simic first handed her work to an editor, interweaves insights into the suffering experienced during WWII and the Cold War brutalities of Stalin with catchy, realistic, colloquial musings on obvious and overlooked aspects of survival. Her poems are revelatory yet rooted in the everyday. She writes about living with horrors, and about ordinary lives: people in love, at work, enjoying a meal. Throughout, Szymborska considers loss and fragility, as when former lovers walk past each other and an aging professor is no longer allowed his vodka and cigarettes. She writes, too, of the imprecision of memory, and in the title poem, the discovery that maps “give no access to the vicious truth.” This is a brilliant and important collection."— Mark Eleveld, Booklist, starred review
"Szymborska (1923–2012), winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature, has her vast and impressive poetic repertoire on full display in this posthumously published volume. Ordered chronologically, the book reveals her development over seven decades, including a gradual departure from end rhyme and the sharpening of her wit. As multitudinous as Whitman, she conveyed deep feeling through vivid, surreal imagery and could revive clichéd language by reconnecting it to the body in startling ways: “Listen,/ how your heart pounds inside me.” To say that Szymborska wore many hats as a poet is an understatement: odes, critiques, and persona poems are just a few of the forms her writing took. Yet, despite their diversity, the constants of her poems were nuance and observational humor: 'Four billion people on this earth,/ but my imagination is still the same.' Also apparent is Szymborska’s rare ability to present an epiphany in a single line, and her bravery in writing toward death: 'But time is short. I write.' Ever the student, she obsessively explored the histories and processes of writing, never far from penning another Ars Poetica. 'Everything here is small, near, accessible,' Szymborska writes in the title poem—a maxim about the way the reader feels within her lines."--Publishers Weekly, starred and boxed review
A new collected volume from the Nobel Prize-winning poet, with over 30 poems never previously published together in English, including the 13 poems from the final Polish collection, Enough.
A new collected volume from the Nobel Prize–winning poet that includes, for the first time in English, all of the poems from her last Polish collection
One of Europe’s greatest recent poets is also its wisest, wittiest, and most accessible. Nobel Prize–winner Wislawa Szymborska draws us in with her unexpected, unassuming humor. Her elegant, precise poems pose questions we never thought to ask. “If you want the world in a nutshell,” a Polish critic remarks, “try Szymborska.” But the world held in these lapidary poems is larger than the one we thought we knew.
Carefully edited by her longtime, award-winning translator, Clare Cavanagh, the poems in Map trace Szymborska’s work until her death in 2012. Of the approximately two hundred and fifty poems included here, nearly forty are newly translated; thirteen represent the entirety of the poet’s last Polish collection, Enough, never before published in English.
Map is the first English publication of Szymborska’s work since the acclaimed Here, and it offers her devoted readers a welcome return to her “ironic elegance” (The New Yorker).
The essential poems, selected by Donald Hall: “The hard-won achievement of a lifetime” (Wall Street Journal)
Former poet laureate Donald Hall selects the essential work from a moving and brilliant life in poetry.
The ability to write poems has “abandoned” Donald Hall, now in his eighties, one of the most significant — and beloved — poets of his generation. Instead of creating new poems, he has looked back over his astonishingly rich body of work and hand-picked poems for this final, concise volume that will delight, and endure. The Selected Poems of Donald Hall is the definitive collection, showcasing poems rich with humor and eros and “a kind of simplicity that succeeds in engaging the reader in the first few lines” (Billy Collins). “However wrenching [Hall’s poems] may be from line to line, they tell a story that is essentially reassuring: art and love are compatible, genius is companionable, and people stand by one another in the end” (New York Times Book Review).
About the Author
Billy Collins is the author of ten collections of poetry, including Aimless Love, Horoscopes for the Dead, Ballistics, The Trouble with Poetry, Nine Horses, Sailing Alone Around the Room, Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, and Picnic, Lightning. He is also the editor of Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry, 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, and Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds. A Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York, and Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Winter Park Institute of Rollins College, he was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003 and Poet Laureate of New York State from 2004 to 2006.