Reader-friendly, hospitable, congenial, welcoming... These are some of the words often used to describe Collins's work. Such attributes surely help explain his popular following. Among other vaguely heretical beliefs, America's former Poet Laureate insists that a poem should give pleasure on its first reading. Still, it's easy (and patently unfair) to make too much of how accessible Billy Collins's artful verse can be when in fact his seductive, hilarious, surprising, and expansive work appeals to the literary establishment, as well. "Billy Collins writes lovely poems," John Updike raves, "lovely in a way almost nobody's since Roethke's are. Limpid, gently and consistently startling, more serious than they seem, they describe all the worlds that are and were and some others besides." Collins admits, "My poetry is suburban, it's domestic, it's middle class, and it's sort of unashamedly that." His subjects are familiar: the mysterious notes one finds in the margins of used books, lingerie catalogues, houseplants, nursery rhyme characters, music; in Billy Collins's imaginative universe, we will share nothing so unequivocally with our distant descendants as an impatience for wet dogs. In his poems, we're constantly recognizing bits and pieces of our lives, uncanny insights gleaned from passing thoughts and articulated with luminous compassion. Dave, Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
, Billy Collins's first book of new poems since Picnic, Lightning
in 1998, is the latest curve in the phenomenal trajectory of this poet's career. Already in his forties when he debuted with a full-length book, The Apple That Astonished Paris
, Collins has become the first poet since Robert Frost to combine high critical acclaim with broad popular appeal. And, as if to crown this success, he was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States for 20012002, and reappointed for 20022003.
What accounts for this remarkable achievement is the poems themselves, quiet meditations grounded in everyday life that ascend effortlessly into eye-opening imaginative realms. These new poems, in which Collins continues his delicate negotiations between the clear and the mysterious, the comic and the elegiac, are sure to sustain and increase his audience of avid readers.
"A poet of plentitude, irony, and Augustan grace." The New Yorker
"It is difficult not to be charmed by Collins, and that in itself is a remarkable literary accomplishment." The New York Review of Books
"Calm water is...the book's ruling element as Collins watches a river from a bridge, or offers cascading gratitude for a genuine Turkish bath in clear, reflective, and serenely flowing praise songs." Booklist
"One appeal of the typical Collins poem is that it's less able to help you memorize it than to help you remember,
for a little while anyway, your own life." The New York Times Book Review
This is poet Billy Collins' first collection of new poems in four years, and it follows on the heels of the runaway success of Sailing Alone Around the Room.
About the Author
Billy Collins is the author of six collections of poetry, including Sailing Alone Around the Room; Questions About Angels; The Art of Drowning; and Picnic, Lightning. He is a Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York.
Table of Contents
Country -- Velocity -- "More than a woman" -- Aimless love -- Absence -- Royal aristocrat -- Paris -- Istanbul -- Love -- Languor -- Obituaries -- Today -- Ave atque vale -- Roadside flowers -- As if to demonstrate an eclipse -- Trompe l'oeil -- Creatures -- Tipping point -- Birthday -- Albany -- Study in orange and white -- Rooms -- Nine horses -- Litany -- Return of the key -- Listener -- Literary life -- Great Walter Pater -- By a swimming pool outside Siracusa -- Bermuda --Ignorance -- Death in New Orleans, a romance -- Air piano -- Drawing -- To my patron -- Writing in the afterlife -- Parade -- Only day in existence -- No time -- Balsa -- Elk River Falls -- Earth -- Colorado -- Lying in bed in the dark, I silently address the birds of Arizona -- Bodhidharma -- Rain -- Christmas sparrow -- Stare -- Surprise -- Poetry.