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Sailing Alone Around the Room, by America’s Poet Laureate, Billy Collins, contains both new poems and a generous gathering from his earlier collections The Apple That Astonished Paris, Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, and Picnic, Lightning. These poems show Collins at his best, performing the kinds of distinctive poetic maneuvers that have delighted and fascina Sailing Alone Around the Room, by America’s Poet Laureate, Billy Collins, contains both new poems and a generous gathering from his earlier collections The Apple That Astonished Paris, Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, and Picnic, Lightning. These poems show Collins at his best, performing the kinds of distinctive poetic maneuvers that have delighted and fascinated so many readers. They may begin in curiosity and end in grief; they may start with irony and end with lyric transformation; they may, and often do, begin with the everyday and end in the infinite. Possessed of a unique voice that is at once plain and melodic, Billy Collins has managed to enrich American poetry while greatly widening the circle of its audience.


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Sailing Alone Around the Room, by America’s Poet Laureate, Billy Collins, contains both new poems and a generous gathering from his earlier collections The Apple That Astonished Paris, Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, and Picnic, Lightning. These poems show Collins at his best, performing the kinds of distinctive poetic maneuvers that have delighted and fascina Sailing Alone Around the Room, by America’s Poet Laureate, Billy Collins, contains both new poems and a generous gathering from his earlier collections The Apple That Astonished Paris, Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, and Picnic, Lightning. These poems show Collins at his best, performing the kinds of distinctive poetic maneuvers that have delighted and fascinated so many readers. They may begin in curiosity and end in grief; they may start with irony and end with lyric transformation; they may, and often do, begin with the everyday and end in the infinite. Possessed of a unique voice that is at once plain and melodic, Billy Collins has managed to enrich American poetry while greatly widening the circle of its audience.

30 review for Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems

  1. 5 out of 5

    Arah-Lynda

    Age vitam plenissime Take a walk in the park perhaps of an evening, moonlight dancing lightly through the swaying branches of the willow, reflected off the water, where the heron feeds, Illuminating our path. There is a slight breeze a welcome silence later we will have a fire and listen to the music of the night. I am humbled to remember that poetry is after all everywhere. It envelopes us. It is in the words we read and those we speak to each other. It is in the very air I breathe, deep and slow. I lo Age vitam plenissime Take a walk in the park perhaps of an evening, moonlight dancing lightly through the swaying branches of the willow, reflected off the water, where the heron feeds, Illuminating our path. There is a slight breeze a welcome silence later we will have a fire and listen to the music of the night. I am humbled to remember that poetry is after all everywhere. It envelopes us. It is in the words we read and those we speak to each other. It is in the very air I breathe, deep and slow. I love poetry so it seems that I was destined to find S. Penkevich’s review of this work. If you have but a moment, then leave this page at once and read his review. It is after all what brought me here. And so I sail, around the room, while bits and pieces of this cling to me. They move about my head. I am a sinner, not a scholar and rearrange them as it pleases me. They clutter my windshield and call forth my senses. I cannot seem to stop. Perhaps this is disrespectful but I think not. How easy he has made it for me to enter here, to sit down in a corner; cross my legs like his, and listen. I walk through the house reciting it and leave its letters falling through the air of every room. I listen to myself saying it, then I say it without listening, then I hear it without saying it. And later when I say it to you in the dark, you are the bell, and I am the tongue of the bell, ringing you But today I am staying home, standing at one window, then another, or putting on a jacket and wandering around outside or sitting in a chair watching the trees full of light- green buds under the low hood of the sky. And when I begin to turn slowly I can feel the whole house turning with me, rotating free of the earth. the sun and the moon in all the windows move, too, with the tips of my fingers this is the wheel I just invented to roll through the rest of my life Why do we bother with the rest of the day, the swale of the afternoon, the sudden dip into evening, This is the best- throwing off the light covers, feet on the cold floor, and buzzing around the house Until the night makes me realize that this place where they pace and dance under colored lights, is made of nothing but autumn leaves, red, yellow, gold, waiting for a sudden gust of wind to scatter it all into the dark spaces beyond these late- night, practically empty streets. Then I remove my flesh and hang it over a chair. I slide it off my bones like a silken garment. Such is life in this pavilion of paper and ink where a cup of tea is cooling, where the windows darken then fill with light. A book like this always has a way of soothing the nerves, quieting the riotous surf of information that foams around my waist. But it is hard to speak of these things how the voices of light enter the body and begin to recite their stories how the earth holds us painfully against its breast made of humus and brambles how we who will soon be gone regard the entities that continue to return greener than ever, spring water flowing through a meadow and the shadows of clouds passing over the hills and the ground where we stand in the tremble of thought taking the vast outside into ourselves. Still, let me know before you set out, come knock on my door and I will walk with you as far as the garden. My fingertips thirsty, absorb this ink and intoxicated, leave my stain all over these pages. Thank you Billy! All of the words in italics are Billy’s. They have moved themselves around shamelessly to feed my unbridled pleasure.

  2. 4 out of 5

    D. Pow

    I am a book addict. I own thousands of them. They fill most rooms of my house, many closets, my garage. They are stacked high by my bedside, on the hamper in the upstairs bathroom, in the backseat of my car. I take a book with me most places I go. I buy books all the time but I have gotten a little less self-indulgent in my buying habits; I almost never buy hardback and I never ever buy full-price. Probably the next lesson I should learn in my book buying habits is never buy while partially or f I am a book addict. I own thousands of them. They fill most rooms of my house, many closets, my garage. They are stacked high by my bedside, on the hamper in the upstairs bathroom, in the backseat of my car. I take a book with me most places I go. I buy books all the time but I have gotten a little less self-indulgent in my buying habits; I almost never buy hardback and I never ever buy full-price. Probably the next lesson I should learn in my book buying habits is never buy while partially or fully inebriated. I bought this book after I had three pints of Guinness and an Irish Car Bomb at my office Christmas Party. Basically, I didn’t want to drive home shit-faced so I ambled over from the BJ’s Pizzeria to the mall across the parking lot. They had a fairly big B. Dalton there which happened to be going out of business. I’m going to miss all the mall book stores, they were charmless and empty of any idiosyncrasy in taste or selection but they were bookstores damn it and that beats any teen clothing shop or boutique that will take their places. So, I’m a little buzzed and the books are all forty percent off. Two criteria for book purchasing together at once; I guarantee I’m going to walk out of there with something. I must’ve perused those aisles for forty frigging minutes, I swear to frigging God. It was like the bookstore of the damned. Every section was filled with the most obvious, trite and commercial books you can imagine. I guess my drunken fingers probably picked up a few gems, my addled brain read a few lines worthy of a sparked interest, but I couldn’t come across that one grailic purchase that combined the right price, readability and sexiness of design. Finally, when I was about ready to piss out the last of my Jamison’s and Guinness I stumbled across the most chicken shit little poetry section this side of George W. Bush’s personal library. And I grabbed Billy Collins. And it was not the road less taken. And it was not money well-spent. And, lamentably, it was not returnable. I would’ve been better off going to the food court and downing a chili dog or a basket of fries. Clogging my arteries, torquing my bowels and earning the disapprobation of my vegetarian buddies; I would’ve been better of going to Old Navy and getting a sweater that frays after three washes. As my two year old son, Brendan, has been known to say(and do), Billy Collins is ‘yucky poo poo.’ I read poetry for a number of reasons and expect a number of things from it. I read it because I think that repeated exposure to rhythmic and metrical finesse will help me in my own halting attempts to develop some music with my writing. I read it because at its best poetry can reduce a particular event, thought or sentiment to the bones, to the bare mineral soil, to the most basic irreducible element of a thing and thusly reflect that thing back to you in a wholly new light, empty of previous associations and mental baggage. Sometimes poetry can be visionary, suffusing the everyday with a sense of the sacred and ineffable through metrical beauty, dream-like imagery and an attempt to wrestle that ultimate Will-O-Wisp, God, onto the stage and into the conversation. Rumi does this and Blake, Yeats at his best and Ginsberg when he wasn’t being phallocentric. There are other great poets, Mary Oliver, Heaney and Ted Hughes whose understanding, embrace and keen observation of the natural world brings another kind of sacred to the forefront. The beauty, strangeness, repellent aliveness and tutelary function of our animal brothers and sisters and the sublime terror of the belching, barking flame-cored earth itself. Collins succeeds on none of these levels. His poetry does possess a certain craft, the art of a man who has obviously honed his style over the years. But the style is boring, empty of technical innovation. His subject matters are worse, he uses events of the daily, mundane and suburban nature and then fails repeatedly, sometimes even in a single poem, to say anything interesting, to say it in an interesting manner or to offer anything resembling a coherent and unique world view. It’s like reading USA Today in stanza form. Page, after tortuous page, it continues. I tried like hell to find some poem I loved here, some sort of glimmer of a deeper world or verbal pyrotechnics that offered some vestige of joy, but nothing. He is the former Poet Laureate of the United States. During the Bush Administration. Perfectly fitting in its way, a poet of a time of the devalued tongue and the age of advertising and double speak. Unmitigated crap. Joyless and empty of anything other than the immediate moment, firmly ensconced in the values, insights and aesthetics of its day.

  3. 5 out of 5

    s.penkevich

    ‘I want the scissors to be sharp and the table perfectly level when you cut me out of my life and paste me in the book you always carry.’ Billy Collins, the American Poet Laureate from 2001-2003, is a poet whom you really always keep with you. The man is a pure shot of brilliance; his serene and seemingly effortless prose will seduce your intellect and make sweet, playful love to your soul. This particular collection serves as an early ‘best of’ and would make a perfect introduction to Collins. If y ‘I want the scissors to be sharp and the table perfectly level when you cut me out of my life and paste me in the book you always carry.’ Billy Collins, the American Poet Laureate from 2001-2003, is a poet whom you really always keep with you. The man is a pure shot of brilliance; his serene and seemingly effortless prose will seduce your intellect and make sweet, playful love to your soul. This particular collection serves as an early ‘best of’ and would make a perfect introduction to Collins. If you have yet to read his works, I would like to take this opportunity to direct you here. It is well worth your time, even if you don’t typically like poetry as Collins writes in such an accessible manner that reading his poems are as simple and refreshing as breathing the clean morning air. Also, this Selected Works slim size (192pgs dripping wet) is deceiving of the momentous achievements sequestered beneath the covers. Often quite funny and whimsical, yet also tender, sentimental and enduring, Billy Collins is absolutely incredible and I cannot help but fall into superlative clichés in crying my love for his simple poetry from atop this Goodreads mountain. New York native Collins is a highly decorated poet, and quite deservingly so. His works represent such an insightful ‘slice-of-life’, if you will, that cuts to the core of what it is to be a functioning lover of the arts in this day and age. From ‘buzzing around the house on espresso’ to chopping onions, Collins provides an accessible, ‘everyday man’ voice that makes it easy to seek a warm shelter in like a snug sweater. He has such a love of words and books that really resonated well with me. His thoughts on writing in the margins, something I take pleasure in, really made me laugh (this stanza is for you Mike P): We have all seized the white perimeter as our own and reached for a pen if only to show we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages; we pressed a thought into the wayside, planted an impression along the verge. This is not a collection to read if you are trying to quit smoking cigarettes however, as he makes them sound so damn appealing in a large variety of poems. Take these last few stanza’s of The Best Cigarette for example: Then I would be my own locomotive, trailing behind me as I returned to work little puffs of smoke, indicators of progress, signs of industry and thought, the signal that told the nineteenth century it was moving forward. That was the best cigarette, when I would steam into the study full of vaporous hope and stand there, the big headlamp of my face pointed down at all the words in parallel lines. I can’t express more how much I love his poems. I feel like a teenager with experience their first debilitating crush when I flip through these pages. How can you not fall in love with words all over again after reading such a joyous, hopeful poem about bars as this: In keeping with universal saloon practice, the clock here is set 15 minutes ahead of all the clocks in the outside world. This makes us a rather advanced group, doing our drinking in the unknown future, immune from the cares of the present, safely harbored a quarter of an hour beyond the woes of the contemporary scene. No wonder such thoughtless pleasure derives from tending the small fire of a cigarette, from observing this class of whiskey and ice, the cold rust I am sipping, or from having an eye on the street outside when Ordinary Time slouches past in a topcoat, rain running off the brim of his hat, the late edition like a flag in his pocket Goddamn. I say Goddamn! (Picture for a moment that I am Uma Thurman and these poems are all cut and lined up on a table. Weak joke, I know). But really, read this amazing shit: A sentence starts out like a lone traveler heading into a blizzard at midnight, tilting into the wind, one arm shielding his face, the tails of his thin coat flapping behind him. There are easier ways of making sense, the connoisseurship of gesture, for example. You hold a girl's face in your hands like a vase. You lift a gun from the glove compartment and toss it out the window into the desert heat. These cool moments are blazing with silence. The full moon makes sense. When a cloud crosses it it becomes as eloquent as a bicycle leaning outside a drugstore or a dog who sleeps all afternoon in a corner of the couch. Bare branches in winter are a form of writing. The unclothed body is autobiography. Every lake is a vowel, every island a noun. But the traveler persists in his misery, struggling all night through the deepening snow, leaving a faint alphabet of bootprints on the white hills and the white floors of valleys, a message for field mice and passing crows. At dawn he will spot the vine of smoke rising from your chimney, and when he stands before you shivering, draped in sparkling frost, a smile will appear in the beard of icicles, and the man will express a complete thought. Are you not impressed?! (Be glad I’m shite at photoshop or you’d be looking at Billy Collins face super imposed on Russell Crowe right now) Collins is a joy. He makes turning 10 into a tearjerker of a milestone. He shows you the full moon as ‘ a pale bachelor, well-groomed and full of melancholy, his round mouth open as if he had just broken into song’. He makes NOT going on a vacation or not fishing on the Susquehanna in July seem fun. And he dazzles with every word. And most importantly, he wrote THIS: Some days I put the people in their places at the table, bend their legs at the knees, if they come with that feature, and fix them into the tiny wooden chairs. All afternoon they face one another, the man in the brown suit, the woman in the blue dress, perfectly motionless, perfectly behaved. But other days, I am the one who is lifted up by the ribs, then lowered into the dining room of a dollhouse to sit with the others at the long table. Very funny, but how would you like it if you never knew from one day to the next if you were going to spend it striding around like a vivid god, your shoulders in the clouds, or sitting down there amidst the wallpaper, staring straight ahead with your little plastic face? That was the sound of your mind orgasm. Read Billy Collins. 5 beautiful stars out of 5 This came highly recommended from both Stephen and Scott. If you ever need to find some great poets, I highly recommend raiding Scott's 'read' list.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Stephen M

    I've already begun posting Billy Collins' poetry around my apartment. In front of my bed: On the refrigerator: The book has inspired a couple poems. Voice After spending upward of a few hours reading the poetry of Billy Collins, his soft, monotone voice has begun narrating my life. When I walk to the bathroom, his voice murmurs behind the splash in the toilet: "I think of how many times I've risen to use the bathroom and how the noise of urine hitting the bowl of water sounds like a strange symphony of busy vo I've already begun posting Billy Collins' poetry around my apartment. In front of my bed: On the refrigerator: The book has inspired a couple poems. Voice After spending upward of a few hours reading the poetry of Billy Collins, his soft, monotone voice has begun narrating my life. When I walk to the bathroom, his voice murmurs behind the splash in the toilet: "I think of how many times I've risen to use the bathroom and how the noise of urine hitting the bowl of water sounds like a strange symphony of busy voices but it always ends before I can make too much of it. When I wash my hands and dry them on the towel, I think of Art Blakey and his treatment of Autumn Leaves, as I look out onto the summer afternoon, the girls suntanning in the grass and the boys kicking a soccer ball, the straggled memories of my youth are coming to me now." The 9:30 205 Bus from Baseline to Broadway Then it's on to the bus, where I get to people-watch. One man with a yellow stain on his white shirt has half his hand in his mouth, trying to pick something from his teeth while he stares at what the red-head girl is reading next to him. She's a friend of mine, but I don't make my myself known because she has just read a particularly funny part of her book and she laughs. I don't want to break this special bond she has made with her book which is lighting up her brain in ways only she could know. No, I can't break that kind of intimacy with small talk. So I watch her get off at her stop without her even knowing that I had seen her. Then In the Aeroplane over the Sea comes onto my shuffle and I smile as the bus rushes through the twinkling morning traffic. Reignited Passions I may go a week without a poem if I'm not careful. Sometimes, whole days pass without even the thought of a metered sentence. I think, what's the point of capturing life in the confines of a few phrases when I am submerged in its plentiful bounty every waking moment of my day? I take the bus in the mornings; I sit in my classes; I take notes; I ask my professors questions; I contrive small talk with that girl in Georgian England History, the one with perfect, black hair that always has her nose in this or that book; the talk goes nowhere; I go to the dining hall to eat, sometimes I find a friend to eat with, sometimes I eat alone, gnawing on a vegetarian burrito while I stare blankly at the campus quadrangle; I go home to study, usually spanish vocabulary, but more often it's youtube distractions. Then I read Billy Collins and my day becomes A Day, profound and glowing with the infinite warmth of significance, every discrete bit of life waiting to be written, waiting to be seen.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ted

    Walking Across the Atlantic I wait for the holiday crowd to clear the beach before stepping onto the first wave. Soon I am walking across the Atlantic thinking about Spain, checking for whales, waterspouts. I feel the water holding up my shifting weight. Tonight I will sleep on its rocking surface. But for now I try to imagine what this must look like to the fish below, the bottoms of my feet appearing, disappearing. Collins in 2015 Billy Collins was born in Manhattan in 1941, received a BA degree from Holy Walking Across the Atlantic I wait for the holiday crowd to clear the beach before stepping onto the first wave. Soon I am walking across the Atlantic thinking about Spain, checking for whales, waterspouts. I feel the water holding up my shifting weight. Tonight I will sleep on its rocking surface. But for now I try to imagine what this must look like to the fish below, the bottoms of my feet appearing, disappearing. Collins in 2015 Billy Collins was born in Manhattan in 1941, received a BA degree from Holy Cross (Worchester MA) in 1963, and attended the University of California, Riverside, earning MA and PhD degrees in Romantic Poetry. He joined the faculty of Lehman College in the Bronx in 1968 and taught there for over thirty years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Co... Collins served as Poet Laureate of the U.S. from 2001 to 2003. During his term Collins created a program called Poetry 180, in which high schools were supplied with a selection (by him) of 180 poems, one for each day of the school year. (The poem for the first day, Introduction to Poetry (1988) is in the book under review here, and is quoted below. It’s the only Collins poem in the 180 collection. See http://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/p180-ho....) (view spoiler)[The position is officially Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. The Poet Laureate “is appointed annually by the Librarian of the U.S. Congress and serves from October to May”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_S... “During his or her term, the Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.” Most recent Poet Laureates have served either one or two terms. (hide spoiler)] Sixteen collections of Collins’ poetry have been published, the first in 1977 and the most recent The Rain in Portugal in 2016. Sailing Alone Around the Room, published in 2002, includes selections from four of his earlier collections, plus twenty “new” poems. (Like most poets, many of Collins’ poems are initially published in magazines. Of the new poems in this book, many had been published in The Atlantic Monthly and Poetry.) Billy Collins as Poet Collins’ audience includes many people (like myself) who are not habitual poetry readers. [But now I've become one - or at least am on my way to becoming one.] He writes poems about subjects that are easily understood, and completely familiar, to almost anyone - yet says things about those subjects different from what most of us would normally say. And even if we did try to say the same things, we wouldn’t come up with the words that Collins does – though not because we don’t know the words. Collins’ poetry is probably not really different in kind from many contemporary poets – he just does it better. I've chosen one poem from each of the five sections of the book. From his 1988 collection The Apple That Polished Paris , there are at least five others (view spoiler)[ - Insomnia, Books, Bar Time, Schoolsville and especially The Brooklyn Museum of Art - (hide spoiler)] that I’d like to quote, but I’ve promised above this one, which would otherwise be my second or third choice. Introduction to Poetry I ask them to take a poem and hold it up to the light like a color slide or press an ear against its hive. I say drop a mouse into a poem and watch him probe his way out, or walk inside the poem’s room and feel the walls for a light switch. I want them to water-ski across the surface of a poem waving at the author’s name on the shore. But all they want to do is tie the poem to a chair with rope and torture a confession out of it. They begin beating it with a hose to find out what it really means. Yes, drop a mouse into a poem! This could generate a lot of discussion not only about reading a poem, but about writing a poem also – couldn’t it? From the 1991 collection Questions About Angels , there are four that I enjoyed most – the title poem, The Death of Allegory, Forgetfulness and this one. First Reader I can see them standing politely on the wide pages that I was still learning to turn, Jane in a blue jumper, Dick with his crayon-brown hair, playing with a ball or exploring the cosmos of the backyard, unaware they are the first characters, the boy and girl who begin fiction. Beyond the simple illustration of their neighborhood the other protagonists were waiting in a huddle: frightening Heathcliff, frightened Pip, Nick Adams carrying a fishing rod, Emma Bovary riding into Rouen. But I would read about the perfect boy and his sister even before I would read about Adam and Eve, garden and gate, and before I heard the name Gutenberg, the type of their simple talk was moving into my focusing eyes. It was always Saturday and he and she were always pointing at something and shouting “Look!” pointing at the dog, the bicycle, or at their father as he pushed a hand mower over the lawn, waving at aproned Mother framed in the kitchen doorway, pointing toward the sky, pointing at each other. They wanted us to look but we had looked already and seen the shaded lawn, the wagon, the postman. We had seen the dog, walked, watered, and fed the animal, and now it was time to discover the infinite, clicking permutations of the alphabet’s small and capital letters. Alphabetical ourselves in the rows of classroom desks, we were forgetting how to look, learning how to read. Wow. What an evocation of childhood, and a description of the reading road that we travel in life - from the boy and girl who begin fiction to those clicking permutations of the alphabet, with the characters to be encountered waiting in a huddle … (view spoiler)[It occurs to me that readers here from outside the U.S. may miss some of the meaning. If so, this might help – Fun With Dick and Jane. (hide spoiler)] From The Art of Drowning (1995), this is the shortest of the eight to ten poems that said something to me. Center At the first chink of sunrise, the windows on one side of the house are frosted with stark orange light, and in every pale blue window on the other side a full moon hangs, a round, white blaze. I look out one side, then the other, moving from room to room as if between countries or parts of my life. Then I stop and stand in the middle, extend both arms like Leonardo’s man, naked in a perfect circle. And when I begin to turn slowly I can feel the whole house turning with me, rotating free of the earth. The sun and moon in all the windows move, too, with the tips of my fingers, the solar system turning by degrees with me, mornings’s egomaniac, turning on the hallway carpet in my slippers, taking the cold orange, blue, and white for a quiet, unhurried spin, all wheel and compass, axis and reel, as wide awake as I will ever be. And from Picnic, Lightning (1998), which has at least fifteen poems that I would gladly showcase here, I’ve chosen this one, composed of tiny two line stanzas, almost like miniature haiku – utterly at one with the poem’s subject. Bonsai All it takes is one to throw a room completely out of whack. Over by the window it looks hundreds of yards away, a lone stark gesture of wood on the distant cliff of a table. Up close, it draws you in, cuts everything down to its size. Look at it from the doorway, and the world dilates and bloats. The button lying next to it is now a pearl wheel, the book of matches is a raft, and the coffee cup a cistern to catch the same rain that moistens its small plot of dark, mossy earth. For it even carries its own weather, leaning away from a fierce wind that somehow blows through the calm tropics of this room. The way it bends inland at the elbow makes me want to inch my way to the very top if its spiky greenery, hold on for dear life and watch the sea storm rage, hoping for a tiny whale to appear. I want to see her plunging forward through the troughs, tunneling under the foam and spindrift on her annual, thousand-mile journey. Finally, from the last section of new poems, I’ll just take the first one, about the author’s dog, who appears often in the poems, in none of them in a more exalted guise than here. Dharma The way the dog trots out the front door every morning without a hat or an umbrella, without any money or the keys to her doghouse never fails to fill the saucer of my heart with milky admiration. Who provides a finer example of a life without encumbrance – Thoreau in his curtainless hut with a single plate, a single spoon? Gandhi with his staff and his holy diapers? Off she goes into the material world with nothing but her brown coat and her modest blue collar, following only her wet nose, the twin portals of her steady breathing, followed only by the plume of her tail. If only she did not shove the cat aside every morning and eat all his food what a model of self-containment she would be, what a paragon of earthly detachment. If only she were not so eager for a rub behind the ears, so acrobatic in her welcomes, if only I were not her god. (Exalted until that last stanza, that is. Then the poet acknowledges that maybe he's been taking her a little too seriously. She does have her downside. And of course occasionally she's a wet dog, and nobody has much anything good to say about a wet dog ... as Collins points out in a poem called To a Stranger Born in Some Distant Country Hundreds of Years from Now.) So there you have it, a small selction of the poems that I liked. There were two or three others that had me laughing near-hysterically, but I felt that my sense of the absurd might not match others’. But then, why should I suppose that these particular poems will touch others the way they did me? Obviously they won’t. There were many I wish I had chosen instead. But I would say the same, no matter which I had chosen. I wish that each person who read this, and thought they would like some of Collins’ poems in here, could sit with me for a couple hours, and find some poems that we both thought were fun – whether of the poet’s house, his dog, poems about listening to music, funny poems, poems about serious topics (death, growing old, receding from the things one loves). Just to find a few that we both could sign off on “yes those are good ones”. And then remember that set for each of the people, all those different sets of poems which we both liked, would define in some way the pieces of poetic sensibility that we shared. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Previous review: New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract Next review: History of Art Janson Older review: State of the World 2013 Previous library review: Ender's Game Card Next library review: The Manchurian Candidate Condon

  6. 4 out of 5

    7jane

    A quick read, read in two days, yet I tried my best to rush it, because this was good. A collection of poems from earlier collections with new batch added at the end, this book has poems of various moods, some of which may appear in the same poem, changing the feeling at some point(s). There's many with everyday-life feel in them, yet some go beyond and turn things around deliciously. They're often funny too; I didn't find anything too-heavy within. The author doesn't write his poems too heavily-l A quick read, read in two days, yet I tried my best to rush it, because this was good. A collection of poems from earlier collections with new batch added at the end, this book has poems of various moods, some of which may appear in the same poem, changing the feeling at some point(s). There's many with everyday-life feel in them, yet some go beyond and turn things around deliciously. They're often funny too; I didn't find anything too-heavy within. The author doesn't write his poems too heavily-laden, which has stopped me reading some poets, nor is the language too tied up to read in the evening when mind isn't at its sharpest focus anymore. "Vade Mecum" I want the scissors to be very sharp and the table to be perfectly level when you cut me out of my life and paste me in that book you always carry. I haven't read his stuff before, but I have a feeling I've read "The Dead" somewhere before, some anthology I guess. These poems have often lots of nature bits going on, themes whirling around the author's home, and the family dog entering the poems now and then. Also, tea and mornings. :) Favorites: "Questions About Angels", "Forgetfulness", "Canada", "My Heart", "Center", "Piano Lessons", "Nightclub", "Morning", "Shoveling Snow With Buddha", "Japan", "Passengers", "Aristotle", "Reading An Anthology Of Chinese Poems Of The Sung Dynasty, I Pause To Admire The Length And Clarity Of Their Titles", "The Waitress" and "Man Listening To Disc". I guess I bumped into this book here, though which friend it was (or 'readers also enjoyed' part may have hinted at it, too), I don't know. But in any case, this was a good purchase, and very recommendable; not too thick nor too heavy poetry-wise :)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    I don’t think Billy gives a rat’s ass that I’m a philistine; that I’m unschooled in the appreciation of fine arts; that I can’t even fake knowing jack about poetry. He writes for guys like me, too. In fact, it might be kind of his thing. (My friend Scott, who does know poetry, commented just today that Collins has a reputation for being less serious. Evidently, the hegemons of verse took exception when he was named Poet Laureate and called for their own choice.) But he won me over on the very fi I don’t think Billy gives a rat’s ass that I’m a philistine; that I’m unschooled in the appreciation of fine arts; that I can’t even fake knowing jack about poetry. He writes for guys like me, too. In fact, it might be kind of his thing. (My friend Scott, who does know poetry, commented just today that Collins has a reputation for being less serious. Evidently, the hegemons of verse took exception when he was named Poet Laureate and called for their own choice.) But he won me over on the very first page: Another Reason Why I Don't Keep a Gun in the House The neighbors' dog will not stop barking. He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark that he barks every time they leave the house. They must switch him on on their way out. The neighbors' dog sill not stop barking. I close all the windows in the house and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast but I can still hear him muffled under the music, barking, barking, barking, and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra, his head raised confidently as if Beethoven had included a part for barking dog. When the record finally ends he is still barking, sitting there in the oboe section barking, his eyes fixed on the conductor who is entreating him with his baton while the other musicians listen in respectful silence to the famous barking dog solo, that endless coda that first established Beethoven as an innovative genius. Like I said before, I’m a poetry nitwit. It was only recently that I learned they don’t have to rhyme. The rule is, as long as it has blocks of broken up lines it qualifies, right? So yeah, I may be a dummy, but at least I’m open to Billy’s way of approaching them: Introduction to Poetry I ask them to take a poem and hold it up to the light like a color slide or press an ear against its hive. I say drop a mouse into a poem and watch him probe his way out, or walk inside the poem's room and feel the walls for a light switch. I want them to water-ski across the surface of a poem waving at the author's name on the shore. But all they want to do is tie the poem to a chair with rope and torture a confession out of it. They begin beating it with a hose to find out what it really means. Muchas gracias to Penky and Stephen M for their great reviews of this one. They, along with Scott, fracked the rocky ground from which poetry flows like gas into a wellbore. That’s almost poetic, isn’t it? Especially when I break it up, right? A bit of humor, a slightly skewed eye, an attitude of approachability, and an artistry with words that’s hard to describe (but easy to like) – it all adds up to a lot of stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Malia

    Another wonderful collection by Billy Collins! My favorite poems in this book (though liked most of them) are "Student of the Clouds", "Nostalgia", "The Dead" and "Candle Hat". Looking forward to reading more by this author! Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com Another wonderful collection by Billy Collins! My favorite poems in this book (though liked most of them) are "Student of the Clouds", "Nostalgia", "The Dead" and "Candle Hat". Looking forward to reading more by this author! Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com

  9. 5 out of 5

    Megan Baxter

    I know nothing about poetry. A bad experience in my first-year World Literature class sent me running screaming from the English Department. This doesn't mean I don't like poetry, just that I know little about it, or how to find good poetry. But when I read s.penkevich's great review of Sailing Alone Around the Room, the poems he posted as part of that caught my attention right away, and I ordered the book from the library. Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goo I know nothing about poetry. A bad experience in my first-year World Literature class sent me running screaming from the English Department. This doesn't mean I don't like poetry, just that I know little about it, or how to find good poetry. But when I read s.penkevich's great review of Sailing Alone Around the Room, the poems he posted as part of that caught my attention right away, and I ordered the book from the library. Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here. In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  10. 4 out of 5

    HBalikov

    You may already know that my enjoyment with much of Collins’ poetry is immense. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... To quote myself: “Collins elevates the commonplace and calls our attention to the details of life. He "rescues" these "from the millions that rush out of sight." For me, that is a very special gift.” In this collection, there are many gems of observation but also some consideration of the work process of the poet. I didn’t mind either focus. I wanted this review to include what I You may already know that my enjoyment with much of Collins’ poetry is immense. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... To quote myself: “Collins elevates the commonplace and calls our attention to the details of life. He "rescues" these "from the millions that rush out of sight." For me, that is a very special gift.” In this collection, there are many gems of observation but also some consideration of the work process of the poet. I didn’t mind either focus. I wanted this review to include what I found best, but the longer poems are too long. Can we both be satisfied with the following? Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House The neighbors’ dog will not stop barking. He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark that he barks every time they leave the house. They must switch him on on their way out. The neighbors’ dog will not stop barking. I close all the windows in the house and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast but I can still hear him muffled under the music, barking, barking, barking, and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra, his head raised confidently as if Beethoven had included a part for barking dog. When the record finally ends he is still barking, sitting there in the oboe section barking, his eyes fixed on the conductor who is entreating him with his baton while the other musicians listen in respectful silence to the famous barking dog solo, that endless coda that first established Beethoven as an innovative genius. The Rival Poet The column of your book titles, always introducing your latest one, looms over me like Roman architecture. It is longer than the name of an Italian countess, longer than this poem will probably be. Etched on the head of a pin, my own production would leave room for The Lord’s Prayer and many dancing angels. No matter. In my revenge daydream I am the one poised on the marble staircase high above the crowded ballroom. A retainer in livery announces me and the Contessa Maria Teresa Isabella Veronica Multalire Eleganza de Bella Ferrari. You are the one below fidgeting in your rented tux with some local Cindy hanging all over you. Most every public library has a copy. So, go treat yourself. 4.5*

  11. 5 out of 5

    rahul

    last night my soul woke up Thirsty, I call it looking for something that I had Missed, so I have named my memories a memory came from the past and led me forward giving shore to my lost soul,within the pages of... Sailing Alone Around the Room A couple of poems I drank then. Savored another before breakfast. One awaits me once I am done with this review. Meanwhile, for better use of words. Please relish this. Winter Syntax A sentence starts out like a lone traveler heading into a blizzard at midnight, tilting last night my soul woke up Thirsty, I call it looking for something that I had Missed, so I have named my memories a memory came from the past and led me forward giving shore to my lost soul,within the pages of... Sailing Alone Around the Room A couple of poems I drank then. Savored another before breakfast. One awaits me once I am done with this review. Meanwhile, for better use of words. Please relish this. Winter Syntax A sentence starts out like a lone traveler heading into a blizzard at midnight, tilting into the wind, one arm shielding his face, the tails of his thin coat flapping behind him. There are easier ways of making sense, the connoisseurship of gesture, for example. You hold a girl's face in your hands like a vase. You lift a gun from the glove compartment and toss it out the window into the desert heat. These cool moments are blazing with silence. The full moon makes sense. When a cloud crosses it it becomes as eloquent as a bicycle leaning outside a drugstore or a dog who sleeps all afternoon in a corner of the couch. Bare branches in winter are a form of writing. The unclothed body is autobiography. Every lake is a vowel, every island a noun. But the traveler persists in his misery, struggling all night through the deepening snow, leaving a faint alphabet of bootprints on the white hills and the white floors of valleys, a message for field mice and passing crows. At dawn he will spot the vine of smoke rising from your chimney, and when he stands before you shivering, draped in sparkling frost, a smile will appear in the beard of icicles, and the man will express a complete thought. -Billy Collins

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I have heard the poet Billy Collins read his own work frequently enough that when I read his poems now, I hear them in his voice. This collection takes some poems from previous collections (some I had read already, and one I had read the same day from a collection of various poets - The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy) and sprinkles in a few new poems. I was surprised by how many of the poems were about the writing and teaching of poetry itself, but perhaps that is an indication of I have heard the poet Billy Collins read his own work frequently enough that when I read his poems now, I hear them in his voice. This collection takes some poems from previous collections (some I had read already, and one I had read the same day from a collection of various poets - The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy) and sprinkles in a few new poems. I was surprised by how many of the poems were about the writing and teaching of poetry itself, but perhaps that is an indication of where Collins was in the years leading up to 2001, when it was published. But already, the dry humor, the remarks I love, are present. I bought this for $1 at the Friends of the Library book sale and read it the same day! Now it is the last day of National Poetry Month. My favorites this time around: Directions "...But it is hard to speak of these things how the voices of light enter the body and begin to recite their stories..." Man in Space (listen on YouTube) Marginalia About the comments students leave next to poems... read it in its entirety on PoemHunter Lines Lost Among Trees "These are not the lines that came to me while walking in the woods with no pen...." Insomnia "Even though the house is deeply silent and the room, with no moon, is perfectly dark... someone inside me will not get off his tricycle..." Tomes (read in its entirety on PoemHunter "There is a section in my library for death..."

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    ”I walk through the house reciting it and leave its letters falling through the air of every room.” Whenever I read Billy Collins’ poems, I want to hand them out to people nearby, as if they are small gifts, from him to all of us. They so perfectly exist within their words that they seem almost self-formed, and Billy Collins is merely their handler who has unwrapped them or undressed them and showed us their essence. Forgetfulness The name of the author is the first to go followed obediently by ”I walk through the house reciting it and leave its letters falling through the air of every room.” Whenever I read Billy Collins’ poems, I want to hand them out to people nearby, as if they are small gifts, from him to all of us. They so perfectly exist within their words that they seem almost self-formed, and Billy Collins is merely their handler who has unwrapped them or undressed them and showed us their essence. Forgetfulness The name of the author is the first to go followed obediently by the title, the plot, the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of, as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain, to a little fishing village where there are no phones. Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag, and even now as you memorize the order of the planets, something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps, the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay. Whatever it is you are struggling to remember, it is not poised on the tip of your tongue, not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen. It has floated away down a dark mythological river whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall, well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle. No wonder you rise in the middle of the night to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war. No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted out of a love poem that you used to know by heart" No events are unnoticed, no detail is irrelevant, no thought is imponderable. He is a master, training his apprentices: ”Introduction To Poetry I ask them to take a poem
 and hold it up to the light 
like a color slide

 or press an ear against its hive.

 I say drop a mouse into a poem
 and watch him probe his way out,

 or walk inside the poem's room
 and feel the walls for a light switch.

 I want them to waterski
 across the surface of a poem
 waving at the author's name on the shore.

 But all they want to do
 is tie the poem to a chair with rope
 and torture a confession out of it.

 They begin beating it with a hose
 to find out what it really means.” And long after the classes, he sees the residues of his pupils in Schoolsville: ”Their grades are sewn into their clothes Like references to Hawthorne. The A’s stroll along with other A’s. The D’s honk whenever they pass another D. All the creative-writing students recline On the courthouse lawn and play the lute. Wherever they go, they form a big circle.” Some poems are humorous, some poignant, many are deeply reflective, and all are precisely observant I feel refreshed, grounded, included when reading his poems. I like his world, and I like how he reminds us that this is our world too. A couple of great reviews here, Spenk's and Steve's, capture the joy of it nicely.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amy (Other Amy)

    We locate an adjective for the weather. We announce that we are having a wonderful time. We express the wish that you were here and hide the wish that we were where you are, walking back from the mailbox, your head lowered as you read and turn the thin message in your hands. A slice of this place, a length of white beach, a piazza or carved spires of a cathedral will pierce the familiar place where you remain, and you will toss on the table this reversible display: a few square inches of where we have str We locate an adjective for the weather. We announce that we are having a wonderful time. We express the wish that you were here and hide the wish that we were where you are, walking back from the mailbox, your head lowered as you read and turn the thin message in your hands. A slice of this place, a length of white beach, a piazza or carved spires of a cathedral will pierce the familiar place where you remain, and you will toss on the table this reversible display: a few square inches of where we have strayed and a compression of what we feel. -from "American Sonnet" In fairness, I should probably not have given Mr. Collins his second chance while I was taking a break from Marlon James' Black Leopard, Red Wolf, giving that man's words the space and rest to hurt me really properly. Nor should I have picked up this small volume immediately after finishing Roz Chast's meditation on her parents' dying days in Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?. But I have thirteen books out from the library and this seemed an easy one to get off the stack, and I really did need a break from Mr. James' wonderful-so-far book. So that is the state of your humble reviewer, a caveat in case any of you commit the folly of taking my not always humble opinion into account in what you read. Another caveat would be that when I find myself wishing a not so fond 'fuck you' to the poet in the midst of multiple poems, I think it best for all involved if I stop. Hence the DNF. What has poor Mr. Collins done to earn such an impolite response? Perhaps not so much, besides waste my time and his. His poems are, after all, workmanlike examples of the craft, harmless meditations on teaching, chopping wood, the nature of reading and poetry, his parents deaths, all the waitpersons he's ever met and their someday deaths, and such. It's just that there's poetry for the sake of constructing a poem, issuing a musing (very like writing a postcard, I freely admit!), and then there's living a poem, tearing the words out of the desolation of life and death and bleeding them, sweating them into the shape of flame. To put it a different way, my very favorite poet right now is a stewardess who pours her struggles with identity, love, and her mother into beautiful burning meditations on her Tumblr, and her least trope would set Mr. Collins on fire. She won't ever be poet laureate. I doubt she'd even want to. She probably won't ever have a book of collected poems for me to set my five shining stars on. Maybe she wouldn't want that either. But I am the tiniest bit bitter about it. Anyway, Mr. Collins and his poems are not horrible. He has his moments. (I see all of us reading ourselves away from ourselves,/straining in circles of light to find more light is brilliant! If only the rest of the poem were as good! A whole book of that, I would gladly crown with starlight!) But on the whole, if you want poetry, find you some real poetry. This is just postcards from where poetry is supposed to live.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nidhi Singh

    This is one the best books I have ever read. Almost every poem in this collection is wonderful. A book I would want to read again and again. This might not be the best poem from this collection but it has that ability to persist in my memory which is not very good with poetry. Introduction to Poetry I ask them to take a poem and hold it up to the light like a color slide or press an ear against its hive. I say drop a mouse into a poem and watch him probe his way out, or walk inside the poem's room and fe This is one the best books I have ever read. Almost every poem in this collection is wonderful. A book I would want to read again and again. This might not be the best poem from this collection but it has that ability to persist in my memory which is not very good with poetry. Introduction to Poetry I ask them to take a poem and hold it up to the light like a color slide or press an ear against its hive. I say drop a mouse into a poem and watch him probe his way out, or walk inside the poem's room and feel the walls for a light switch. I want them to water-ski across the surface of a poem waving at the author's name on the shore. But all they want to do is tie the poem to a chair with rope and torture a confession out of it. They begin beating it with a hose to find out what it really means.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    I just really enjoy Billy Collins'dry wit and way with words. But here is my favorite Billy Collins poem (not, alas, included in this book, but it will give you a nice taste of his work). the lanyard The other day as I was ricocheting slowly off the blue walls of this room bouncing from typewriter to piano from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor, I found myself in the "L" section of the dictionary where my eyes fell upon the word, Lanyard. No cookie nibbled by a French novelist could send I just really enjoy Billy Collins'dry wit and way with words. But here is my favorite Billy Collins poem (not, alas, included in this book, but it will give you a nice taste of his work). the lanyard The other day as I was ricocheting slowly off the blue walls of this room bouncing from typewriter to piano from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor, I found myself in the "L" section of the dictionary where my eyes fell upon the word, Lanyard. No cookie nibbled by a French novelist could send one more suddenly into the past. A past where I sat at a workbench at a camp by a deep Adirondack lake learning how to braid thin plastic strips into a lanyard. A gift for my mother. I had never seen anyone use a lanyard. Or wear one, if that’s what you did with them. But that did not keep me from crossing strand over strand again and again until I had made a boxy, red and white lanyard for my mother. She gave me life and milk from her breasts, and I gave her a lanyard. She nursed me in many a sick room, lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips, set cold facecloths on my forehead then led me out into the airy light and taught me to walk and swim and I in turn presented her with a lanyard. "Here are thousands of meals" she said, "and here is clothing and a good education." "And here is your lanyard," I replied, "which I made with a little help from a counselor." "Here is a breathing body and a beating heart, strong legs, bones and teeth and two clear eyes to read the world." she whispered. "And here," I said, "is the lanyard I made at camp." "And here," I wish to say to her now, "is a smaller gift. Not the archaic truth, that you can never repay your mother, but the rueful admission that when she took the two-toned lanyard from my hands, I was as sure as a boy could be that this useless worthless thing I wove out of boredom would be enough to make us even." (billy collins)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    I gave this book three separate sittings and though I did enjoy reading it, I could not shake the feeling that Collins is a bit too straightforward. I understand his widespread appeal - he makes poetry manageable, accessible, easy - but I think he does so at some expense. Critics quoted in the front of the book described his "irresistable charm" - but I think that a great deal of that charm is not so much the sublimeness of his poems, but the fact that nearly every person on earth - secretly, de I gave this book three separate sittings and though I did enjoy reading it, I could not shake the feeling that Collins is a bit too straightforward. I understand his widespread appeal - he makes poetry manageable, accessible, easy - but I think he does so at some expense. Critics quoted in the front of the book described his "irresistable charm" - but I think that a great deal of that charm is not so much the sublimeness of his poems, but the fact that nearly every person on earth - secretly, deep down - wants to be a poet and the ease and simplicity of Collins' poems make them think that maybe their own writings are worth a little more than they ever supposed. It is no doubt a good thing that he has - I'm sure - inspired many tobegin reading poetry or to even begin taking more seriously their own writing. I also felt, though, that his own voice - his ego - was ever-present and much too loud. He strikes me as the type that is quite enamored with himself and I think that that is part of why his storylines felt so overt to me. All in all - it is merely a matter of personal preference. I can appreciate his meter and the unquestionable strength of his creativity. He can take the mundane and banal and send them off into some other realm that is full of imagination and fantasy. And he makes the trip fun. But it felt a little like the science fiction form of poetry - and science fiction is something for which I've never been able to acquire a taste.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nellie Mitchell

    Thanks for letting me borrow this Constance. I have lots of new favorite poems marked in this book. I now want to read all the charming wit that is Billy Collins.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gearóid

    Very refreshing to read. Billy Collins has a unique view of the world and its nice to immerse yourself in his poetry to open your mind up. Highly recommend.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stacy Bender

    the lanyard The other day as I was ricocheting slowly off the blue walls of this room bouncing from typewriter to piano from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor, I found myself in the "L" section of the dictionary where my eyes fell upon the word, Lanyard. No cookie nibbled by a French novelist could send one more suddenly into the past. A past where I sat at a workbench at a camp by a deep Adirondack lake learning how to braid thin plastic strips into a lanyard. A gift for my mother. I the lanyard The other day as I was ricocheting slowly off the blue walls of this room bouncing from typewriter to piano from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor, I found myself in the "L" section of the dictionary where my eyes fell upon the word, Lanyard. No cookie nibbled by a French novelist could send one more suddenly into the past. A past where I sat at a workbench at a camp by a deep Adirondack lake learning how to braid thin plastic strips into a lanyard. A gift for my mother. I had never seen anyone use a lanyard. Or wear one, if that’s what you did with them. But that did not keep me from crossing strand over strand again and again until I had made a boxy, red and white lanyard for my mother. She gave me life and milk from her breasts, and I gave her a lanyard. She nursed me in many a sick room, lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips, set cold facecloths on my forehead then led me out into the airy light and taught me to walk and swim and I in turn presented her with a lanyard. "Here are thousands of meals" she said, "and here is clothing and a good education." "And here is your lanyard," I replied, "which I made with a little help from a counselor." "Here is a breathing body and a beating heart, strong legs, bones and teeth and two clear eyes to read the world." she whispered. "And here," I said, "is the lanyard I made at camp." "And here," I wish to say to her now, "is a smaller gift. Not the archaic truth, that you can never repay your mother, but the rueful admission that when she took the two-toned lanyard from my hands, I was as sure as a boy could be that this useless worthless thing I wove out of boredom would be enough to make us even." (billy collins)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Magdelanye

    I might as well begin by saying how much I like the title. from the poem Workshop p65 And what better company for one's solitary journeys than Billy Collins with his tender resignation, wild humour, and the ability to make friends with the absurd. Perhaps because he is an American, even though he served as Poet Laureate for the USA for the 2001-2002 term, I only recently discovered his work in an anthology and was impressed with his illustrious backlist. This man has been a working poet for most I might as well begin by saying how much I like the title. from the poem Workshop p65 And what better company for one's solitary journeys than Billy Collins with his tender resignation, wild humour, and the ability to make friends with the absurd. Perhaps because he is an American, even though he served as Poet Laureate for the USA for the 2001-2002 term, I only recently discovered his work in an anthology and was impressed with his illustrious backlist. This man has been a working poet for most of his life. This book covers a decade and four of his publications from 1988-1998; and includes a whole volume of new work. It seems only yesterday I used to believe there was nothing under my skin but light. If you cut me I would shine. But now when I fall on the sidewalks of life, I skin my knees. I bleed. from the poem On Turning Ten p66 BC uses plain words and familiar situations to reach across the page to directly connect with the readers heart, achieving a depth and an affirmation often lacking in more sophisticated presentations. If there is only enough time in the final minutes of the twentieth century for one last dance I would like to be dancing it slowly with you.... ...with the orchestra sliding into the sea and our attention to humming whatever it was they were playing. from Dancing Towards Bethlehem. p70

  22. 5 out of 5

    Northpapers

    "I am wondering what became of all those tall abstractions that used to pose, robed and statuesque, in paintings and parade about on the pages of the Renaissance displaying their capital letters like license plates." - from "The Death of Allegory" Billy Collins is the master jazz flute player of poetry. His touch is so exquisitely light, his sound so modest and calm, that you can miss the depth of what he's doing. My friend Adam Fites sent this collection to me for Christmas. I had read Nine Horses in "I am wondering what became of all those tall abstractions that used to pose, robed and statuesque, in paintings and parade about on the pages of the Renaissance displaying their capital letters like license plates." - from "The Death of Allegory" Billy Collins is the master jazz flute player of poetry. His touch is so exquisitely light, his sound so modest and calm, that you can miss the depth of what he's doing. My friend Adam Fites sent this collection to me for Christmas. I had read Nine Horses in December of 2015, and while its tone and humor were impeccable, I didn't find much of the depth or texture that gives my favorite poetry traction. Sailing Alone Around the Room, being a collection collected from other collections, was to my eye, a far superior collection. Collins's calm, winking eye is at work all over the place, but there are poems here about pain, grief, passing time, and precise moments that become so musical or true as to feel spiritual. My favorites included "My Number," "The Dead," "The History Teacher," "Japan," and "Taking off Emily Dickinson's Clothes."

  23. 4 out of 5

    shanghao

    The book is a gift that keeps on giving. Billy Collins' observations and musings sound like they come from Dumbledore, complete with the twinkle in his eye. I read these aloud, by the way, the rhythms make it impossible not to. The book is a gift that keeps on giving. Billy Collins' observations and musings sound like they come from Dumbledore, complete with the twinkle in his eye. I read these aloud, by the way, the rhythms make it impossible not to.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Brendan

    My philosophically minded friends and I have a debate about Billy Collins' poetry. They insist that the attempt to chronicle the everyday in a meaningful way can be done in a deeper, more profound manner. They find Collins lacking in this way. This is probably true, but not Collins' main point, I think. Still, I think, after rereading this book, that Collins becomes more profound with time. I am still unsure if this is my projection into the poem because I *want* these poems to be more profound o My philosophically minded friends and I have a debate about Billy Collins' poetry. They insist that the attempt to chronicle the everyday in a meaningful way can be done in a deeper, more profound manner. They find Collins lacking in this way. This is probably true, but not Collins' main point, I think. Still, I think, after rereading this book, that Collins becomes more profound with time. I am still unsure if this is my projection into the poem because I *want* these poems to be more profound or not. Nonetheless, I can't help liking so much of what he writes here, even if it can be rightly said, as my aforementioned friends insist, that some of these poems are thin on theme. Anyway, here's a lovely image that closes the poem 'Bar Time': No wonder such thoughtless pleasure derives from tending the small fire of a cigarette, from observing this glass of whiskey and ice, the cold rust I am sipping, or from having an eye on the street outside when Ordinary Time slouches past in a topcoat, rain runing off the brim of his hat, the late edition like a flag in his pocket.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    Billy Collins is the perfect poet for people who don't really care for poetry. He writes little stories in free verse that are accessible and often very funny. This is a collection of, as the title says, new and old poems. Some of my favorites are: Marginalia where the poet ponders the kinship he feels with people who write in the margin of books; Another Reason Why I Don't Keep a Gun in the House where the poet struggles with his ire at the neighbor's barking dog, and Passengers, his observatio Billy Collins is the perfect poet for people who don't really care for poetry. He writes little stories in free verse that are accessible and often very funny. This is a collection of, as the title says, new and old poems. Some of my favorites are: Marginalia where the poet ponders the kinship he feels with people who write in the margin of books; Another Reason Why I Don't Keep a Gun in the House where the poet struggles with his ire at the neighbor's barking dog, and Passengers, his observation that the other passengers in the waiting area of the airport gate may very well be the "possible company of my death" if their plane crashes. His Introduction to Poetry mirrors my own exasperation with students who demand to be told "what the poem is about." This, and The Complete Robert Frost, are two poetry books that I pick up constantly to reread.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    After reading two collections of Collins's poetry prior to this, I thought I had read the best poems. This collection showed me that I was wrong, not only by being even better than the collections I'd read, but also by being the cleverest, wittiest and sublimest poetry collection ever. The poems within cover a wide range of themes with numerous poetic forms, genres, styles and concepts employed. Truly amazing and worth a read! Highly recommended to each and every poetry enthusiasts. After reading two collections of Collins's poetry prior to this, I thought I had read the best poems. This collection showed me that I was wrong, not only by being even better than the collections I'd read, but also by being the cleverest, wittiest and sublimest poetry collection ever. The poems within cover a wide range of themes with numerous poetic forms, genres, styles and concepts employed. Truly amazing and worth a read! Highly recommended to each and every poetry enthusiasts.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Melody

    I have to say that I glaze over at most poetry. I always feel that I need to "tie the poem to a chair with rope and torture a confession out of it". But perhaps this book helped me "walk inside the poem's room and feel the walls for a light switch". Although I'll still do that with the hose for beating behind my back. I have to say that I glaze over at most poetry. I always feel that I need to "tie the poem to a chair with rope and torture a confession out of it". But perhaps this book helped me "walk inside the poem's room and feel the walls for a light switch". Although I'll still do that with the hose for beating behind my back.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    Very good and satisfying book of poetry. Excellent.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    I love Billy Collins' poetry and this book didn't disappoint. I love Billy Collins' poetry and this book didn't disappoint.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Colin

    Billy Collins has always been one of my favourite poets for his minimalist style, clever turns of wit, and thoughtful concepts. And so, I'm happy to report that this collection has not failed to succeed the others in making me laugh, think, and cry. Billy Collins has always been one of my favourite poets for his minimalist style, clever turns of wit, and thoughtful concepts. And so, I'm happy to report that this collection has not failed to succeed the others in making me laugh, think, and cry.

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