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1. Sailing Alone Around the Room:
2. Ballistics: Poems
3. The Trouble with Poetry: And Other
4. Billy Collins Live: A Performance
5. Nine Horses: Poems
6. Questions About Angels: Poems
7. 180 More: Extraordinary Poems
8. Picnic, Lightning
9. Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology
10. Poetry 180: A Turning Back to
11. The Art Of Drowning (Pitt Poetry
12. Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes
13. Monologue of a Dog
14. The Poets Laureate Anthology
15. Horoscopes for the Dead: Poems
16. The Apple That Astonished Paris
17. Poets and Artists (O&S, Sept.
18. Who Loves You, Billy? (Collins
19. Great Irish Heroes: Michael Collins,
20. Ballistics: Poems. Billy Collins

1. Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems
by Billy Collins
Paperback: 192 Pages (2002-09-17)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$5.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375755195
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
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. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (90)

5-0 out of 5 stars One Likeable Poet
Being critical of artists is interesting territory. As an amateur poet who is learning to fall in love with the medium and all other artistic mediums late in life, I find it hard to be critical of any artist. I think they are all noble in simply pursuing a craft that so few really care about. That, to me, is bold. In a culture addicted to quick fix idiot entertainment, blessed is the man who can get across to the masses through the written word sans pulp. Collins is one of those artists and good for him.

Every poem in this book was worth reading IMHO. A range of subjects are covered and Collins is never dark and brooding. He displays sensitivity and uses evocative yet accessible imagery to elucidate common evreyday themes.

As to his detractors I believe Collins would respond like this:

I want the scissors to be 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.

4-0 out of 5 stars Sailing Alone Around the Room
This is a nice collection of poems by a modern poet.It made the bestseller list and I suppose for readers of poetry this is a good collection of poems.Instead of critiquing style and syntax, I will instead say that I truly found these poems to be a strong emotional outpouring by the author.Billy Collins' writing is to the point and about those things that even not poetry lovers can relate with.After reading this book I was left with the sensation that I actually had just conversed with Collins and know him for who he is and not just for the images of his writings.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Classic from America's Master of Poetry
Billy Collins is simply the best, and I think this is some of the best of Billy Collins. I treasure my fraying copy and recently bought two more as gifts.

5-0 out of 5 stars Thought-Provoking Subtle Humor
Perhaps, what may best describe the poetry of Billy Collins is "Thought-Provoking Subtle Humor."Throughout much of his work Collins intertwines a hint of humor with a profound message about our daily existence, dealing with everything from junk mail to our inner voices to the spirits of the dead.

Collins, a teacher by day, poet by night, offers his readers visions and images from the classroom.At times, we are the student, as in "Snow Days," "First Reader" and "On Turning Ten" and at other times, we are the teacher, as in "The History Teacher."

However, the vast range of themes to which Collins writes is not limited to the student - teacher perspective, but is as diverse as life itself.In "Pinup" a trip to the auto mechanic turns into a whimsical satire regarding the ever common pinup calendar found in probably every garage in America.This poem, complete with the "we're going to have to charge you more" routine so typical of the dreaded repair shop, offers the reader some comic relief as the poet becomes mesmerized by the attractive and seductive women on the pinup calendar hanging over the tool bench.Again, in "Victoria Secret" Collins pokes fun at man's lustful tendencies, as he thumbs through the catalog prior to opening his other mail.The poet's imagination runs amuck as he places the thoughts in the models' heads based on their various poses, facial expressions and intricate clothing (available in a multitude of oddly named colors).

Poems dealing with an even more significant theme, such as death, are not void of humor.In "The Dead" Collins proposes that the spirits of the deceased are always watching us, hopeful that we might see them and when we, the living, lie flat and stare upwards, they think we are watching them.In "Night House" Collins addresses the many inner voices of man as if all are separate entities or spirits living captive within our bodies.His poignant observation of how, at times, we all glance off into the distance in an almost comatose fashion and at these moments, he speculates, we might actually be listening to some of these other spirits within us, this is as profound an idea as it absurd, which heightens the poems overall appeal.In "Forgetfulness" a poem about aging, here too, Collins adds humor to address the topic of the slow and gradual loss of one's mental faculties, specifically that of memory.

What makes Collins work so endearing and so pleasurable is his ability to sprinkle humor into what ails us.The life experiences, both the good, the bad and the mundane, often contain some subtle humor.In stepping in as himself and then stepping back as an objective observer of himself, the poet fuses the two perspectives into verse and offers forth the quiet comical reality of life itself.Collins' collection of work in "Sailing Alone Around the Room" will leave you floating about in thought with a smile on your face.

John Santoemma
English Teacher
Reno, Nevada

5-0 out of 5 stars Action filled imagery
Billy Collins is able to make a picture out of just about any combination of words. Each poem in this collection seems to begin in one place and land in another, turning corners with each line, and leaving the reader wondering where it is going until the very end. A very satisfying adventure in poetry filled with humor, compassion, and wonder. "Sailing Alone Around the Room" is also full of insight into one of America's greatest contemporary poets. I would highly recommend this to anyone who study's poetry for whatever reason, critiques it, or just enjoys a good read.

David J. Gluck author "Life's Pages" ... Read more

2. Ballistics: Poems
by Billy Collins
Paperback: 128 Pages (2010-02-16)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$7.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812975618
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In this moving and playful collection, Billy Collins touches on an array of subjects—love, death, solitude, youth, and aging—delving deeper than ever before into the intricate folds of life. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (23)

3-0 out of 5 stars Good, But Should Be Better
Veteran poetry readers will find plenty with which they're already familiar in this collection--which is both its greatest virtue and its greatest flaw.Reading this collection, I felt like I was watching Collins take a victory lap for being the triumphant author of "The Trouble With Poetry" and "Nine Horses."These are excellent collections, of course, but in today's saturated poetry market, not even the great Billy Collins can afford to rest on his laurels.

If you've read any Collins, you'll recognize the tenor of this collection.It showcases his distinctively intimate insights on life's ordinary moments, leavened with his talent for lighthearted juxtapositions, non sequiturs, and the mot juste.Birds write memoirs on fresh snow, ancient statues flee their plinths, and unfinished poems lurk on the margins of Parisian streets.You'll simultaneously realize how obvious such images seem once he points them out to you, and how they stands as uniquely his own.

But at the same time, I never felt that Collins had stretched or challenged himself in writing these poems.Many of them mirror each other so precisely in structure and content that they feel like successive drafts for the same poem.How many times can Collins write in three-line stanzas, with the final line sprawling from margin to margin or beyond, before you realize he has found a comfy place for his fingers?It gets soporific.

I do not believe, as some doomsayers claim, that Collins' best work is behind him (c.f. the Huffington Post).I will probably buy and read Collins' next collection, and the one after that, and I'll probably enjoy them.But, given half a chance, I will also prod him to venture outside his comfort zone and take on more varied and ambitious poetic tasks.The very fact that he remains good demands that he take risks and not settle for repeats of victories he has already won.

3-0 out of 5 stars Your House, My House, Bauhaus Poetry
A now famous deceased Turkish Poet whose whole output was about 150 poems, wrote in 1948, that he wrote mundane things about a mundane world and that it was up to the reader to find the mystery, the mysticism and the fantasy by converting the mundane according to the reader's perception, observation, experience and fancy.

It is possible that he was influenced by some French poets like Jacques Prevert, who is fully recommended to lovers of Billy Collins's Poetry.

Billy Collins possibly discovered for himself that deeper feelings are based on simple mundane images of mostly everyday life and objects. After all, how many get a chance to experience the exotic, the absurd, the quaint and the unusual and also recognize them as such?

He picks his images well and presents them in a very legible and clear way. I can understand why his poetry is popular for teaching literature in American highschools. You can easily get most freshmen to discuss and analyse these poems, and possibly even to enjoy them.

On the other hand, my search for a rhythm and/or music, that tiny something to separate his pieces from standard prose, was unfortunately fruitless. I read and re-read. i even wrote some of the poems in prose as a single paragraph. They still read the same.

I also missed a 'delicacy', a"je ne sais quoi", a hidden gem, a sign that said, "there is a bit more to your everyday!"

I do not want to see everyday life like a Fodors trip report. The images are too static and sterile, like still photographs which have been polished by a photoshop craftsman so that you have no reason to peruse the picture deeper to really understand what it is all about.

if you wish to be able to say, "yes, i know these things and these events, and these people and they do bring some thoughts and feelings to mind." and "wow i understood everything at the first reading, and now i can go back to what i was doing before," then this book is for you.

I give it three stars because it is clear, it is logical, the poems are well thought out and polished. A product of a hard working professional.

1-0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
The book was fine.It was a gift for my daughter's birthday and it did not arrive when promised.

5-0 out of 5 stars Humorous, Straightforward, Simple and Deep
Billy Collins served as U.S. poet laureate for two terms (2001-2003), and New York state poet from 2004-2006. He's published 12 books of poetry and edited three others. The New York Times has called him "the most popular poet in America," and he's something rather odd in publishing circles - several of his books of poems have become bestsellers, including "Ballistics: Poems" (2008).

The word "ballistics" is the study of the dynamics of projectiles, which we might more associate with Miami CSI or Law and Order, but Collins associates it with something else - books. From the title poem:

"When I came across the high-speed photograph
Of a bullet that had just pierced a book -
The pages exploding with the velocity -

I forgot all about the marvels of photography
And began to wonder which book
The photographer had selected for the shot..."

He goes on to speculate which book it might have been - one by Raymond Chandler, "where an extra bullet would hardly be noticed," or a work of medieval literature, or a biography of Joan of Arc. Drifting off to sleep, he realizes that the "executed book" was a collection of poems written by someone he doesn't like.

That's vintage Collins: a slightly off-center curiosity; a playfulness that often ends in seriousness; and a writing style that is immediately accessible.

He considers everyday things, like birds, and everyday feelings and experiences, like tension, despair, separation and aging. Here's "A Dog on His Master:"

As young as I look,
I am growing older faster than he,
seven to one
is the ratio they tend to say.

Whatever the number,
I will pass him one day
and take the lead
the way I do on our walks in the woods.

And if this ever manages
to cross his mind,
it would be the sweetest
shadow I have ever cast on snow or grass.

Humorous, straightforward, simple - yet with a depth below the simplicity. That's Billy Collins, and that's "Ballistics."

5-0 out of 5 stars Billy Collins poetry
This latest collection of Collins poetry is just what one needs to see this world with fresh eyes. ... Read more

3. The Trouble with Poetry: And Other Poems
by Billy Collins
Paperback: 112 Pages (2007-03-13)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$6.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375755217
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Playfulness, spare elegance, and wit epitomize the poetry of Billy Collins. With his distinct voice and accessible language, America’s two-term Poet Laureate has opened the door to poetry for countless people for whom it might otherwise remain closed.

Like the present book’s title, Collins’s poems are filled with mischief, humor, and irony, “Poetry speaks to all people, it is said, but here I would like to address / only those in my own time zone”–but also with quiet observation, intense wonder, and a reverence for the everyday: “The birds are in their trees, / the toast is in the toaster, / and the poets are at their windows. / They are at their windows in every section of the tangerine of earth–the Chinese poets looking up at the moon, / the American poets gazing out / at the pink and blue ribbons of sunrise.”

Through simple language, Collins shows that good poetry doesn’t have to be obscure or incomprehensible, qualities that are perhaps the real trouble with most “serious” poetry: “By now, it should go without saying / that what the oven is to the baker / and the berry-stained blouse to the drycleaner / so the window is to the poet.”

In this dazzling new collection, his first in three years, Collins explores boyhood, jazz, love, the passage of time, and, of course, writing–themes familiar to Collins’s fans but made new here. Gorgeous, funny, and deeply empathetic, Billy Collins’s poetry is a window through which we see our lives as if for the first time.

From the Hardcover edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (39)

5-0 out of 5 stars poet laureate
Anyone whose heart was broken by reading Collins' The Names will be a fan forever.Written for the first anniversary of 9/11,"So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart."

5-0 out of 5 stars Billy Collins in tehe Classroom
I introduced Billy Collins to my Senior English class as an example of all the things poetry should be.They appreciate his insight and wit and his poems are an excellent startingpoint for further writing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Witty, benevolent and humanitarian!!

This collection by Collins is witty, benevolent and humanitarian. Collins writes about daily matters and big questions in a profound and original way.
I love these verses from "The Lanyard"in which Collins depicts the relation of a boy with his mother:

"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..."

Brilliant poems worth reading.

Joyce Akesson, author of Love's Thrilling Dimensions and The Invitation

3-0 out of 5 stars the trouble with billy
The trouble with Billy Collins is that we've seen it all before. Don't get me wrong, he does what he does quite well, but to be honest, I'm tired of what he does. He's a one trick pony. Read the lainard poem and shelf the book. Read his earlier works when he was still fresh and new.

5-0 out of 5 stars No trouble with this poetry
I love Billy Collins.Even if you think you don't like poetry, give Billy Collins a try.His droll humor reminds me of Bob Newhart.He even looks a bit like Newhart.The poems are easy to read and understand.My favorite is about a boy who makes a lanyard as a gift for his mother feeling the lanyard's value is equal to everything the mother has given the boy throughout his life.Any parent will appreciate this poem. ... Read more

4. Billy Collins Live: A Performance at the Peter Norton Symphony Space April 20, 2005
by Billy Collins
Audio CD: Pages (2005-08-02)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$10.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0739320114
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In this exclusive audio publishing event, Billy Collins, former U.S. Poet Laureate, shares an evening of his poetry in a benefit reading for WNYC, New York Public Radio. Often compared to Robert Frost, his poetry has been embraced by people of all ages and backgrounds, and his readings are most often standing room only.

Performed by the author at Peter Norton Symphony Space in New York City, Billy Collins reads 24 of his poems, including "Dharma" --a spiritual yet humbling ode to man's best friend, "The Lanyard--an amusing recollection about the popular, if not pointless, summer camp pastime, and "Consolation" --a tongue-in-cheek reflection of a cancelled European trip, and the benefits of staying home instead. In addition to the poetry readings, Collins also spends some time in a brief question and answer session where he reflects on what makes good poetry, his own process of reaching his audiences as a poet, the success of his Poetry 180 programs in schools nationwide, and an amusing sidebar on his memories growing up as an only child. At times pensive and sardonic, amusing and subtly sarcastic, Billy Collins Live celebrates both the simple and the complex in a language that appeals to all. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (24)

5-0 out of 5 stars A welcome surprise
I am not a huge fan of poetry; it's not that I dislike it; it is just not something I look for while searching for a good read. However I was convinced to give Billy Collins a try. A former Poet Laureate of the U.S., Collins' collection of poems was a delightful revelation for me.

This collection of about 20 of Mr. Collins poems is read by the author. The poems are very contemporary and speak of simple things we can all relate to. `The Lanyard' a poem about going to camp and making a lanyard to give to one's mother is charming, funny and touching.The poem about a dog that has died is also funny- but once again touching. In fact I loved all the poems in this collection and plan on getting some of Billy Collins books to read and keep - to read the poems again and again as needed.

If you think you don't like poetry give Billy Collins a try-I think you will be surprised.

5-0 out of 5 stars Billy Collins: Long may he live!
If you can get past an idiotic short introduction by Bill Murray, you'll enjoy a wonderful experience. Billy Collins has created true poetry that will make you think and laugh.

5-0 out of 5 stars worth the effort
I heard Billy Collins speak in Wellington early one chilly Sunday morning. He commented that he was amazed anyone would want to get out of bed and listen to him on such a cold day ...he wouldn't! Of course we all thought it worth the effort, nothing beats hearing a really superb poet reading his own work superbly.I heartily recommend this cd, it's always in the most played pile near my cd player and on my ipod,so that I can listen to him any time.
A great selection of his work and interesting pre-ambles before each poem.

5-0 out of 5 stars Billy Collins CD
As always, Billy Collins is above and beyond in his poetry readings.Great humor, great heart and an accessibility rarely found in intellectual circles!You will fall in love with him and with poetry all over again.

5-0 out of 5 stars Take the phone off the hook
This is a figure of speech of course -once upon a time... never mind, but you'd burn your dinner or if it's cooked, then the food on your fork will miss you mouth, if you try to cook or eat as you listen to Billy Collins read.It's a treat. ... Read more

5. Nine Horses: Poems
by Billy Collins
Paperback: 144 Pages (2003-10-14)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$5.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375755209
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In Nine Horses, Billy Collins, America’s Poet Laureate for 2001–2003, continues his delicate negotiation between the clear and the mysterious, the comic and the elegiac. The poems in this collection reach dazzling heights while being firmly grounded in the everyday. Traveling by train, lying on a beach, and listening to jazz on the radio are the seemingly ordinary activities whose hidden textures are revealed by Collins’s poetic eye. With clarity, precision, and enviable wit, Collins transforms those moments we too often take for granted into brilliant feats of creative imagination. Nine Horses is a poetry collection to savor and to share.Amazon.com Review
In Nine Horses, Billy Collins, U.S. poet laureate and author ofthe bestselling collection Sailing Alone Around theRoom, attempts to find beauty in simplicity, but ends upachieving the simply banal. Some poems, such as "Rooms" and"Obituaries," in which readers are given freedom to draw their ownconclusions, are memorable, but the language in Nine Horses haslittle music and thoughts are plainly stated. Animals (mostly mice andlittle birds) populate this sentimental journey, and they are nearlyalways personified, resulting in poems that sometimes read like theverse equivalent of a Thomas Kinkade print. Collins's use of thevernacular can be burdensome ("and you are certainly not thepine-scented air. / There is no way you are the pine-scented air"),but some readers may find comfort (a haven perhaps) in the author'swarm, safe world. Billy Collins has become an immensely popular poet,and though Nine Horses may remain less than inspiring, itspoems are certain not to offend. --Michael Ferch ... Read more

Customer Reviews (35)

5-0 out of 5 stars I love Billy Collins
This is a fantastic book of poetry by Billy Collins. Buy it, read it, and love it. His work is very perceptual, observational, and honest. :)

3-0 out of 5 stars unpretentious, yes; but not his best work
I was introduced to Billy Collins through his poem "The History Teacher".I have since read more of his work, but this was the first formal collection I purchased.Collins' wit and eye for clever detail is constant throughout the poems in _Nine Horses_, but I was not as moved (or as impressed) with the selection as I had hoped to be.

The opening poem, "Night Letter to the Reader" establishes the tone of the book, and is an honest effort at building a relationship with the reader.It worked for me, giving me a sense of familiarity with Collins as a person and poet as he writes, "but now I am wondering if you are even listening / and why I bother to tell you these things / that will never make a difference ..."I was listening, and his words did make a difference.

Collins' reflections on life (in "Obituaries"), on art (in "Study in Orange and White") and on poetry itself ("Poetry") were humourous and insightful - what I have come to expect from him and his writing.It was a bit of a disappointment, then, to have so many poems that for me, fell flat."Balsa" - about carving boats out of wood as a metaphor for childhood and growing up,and "Nine Horses" - a meditation on a birthday gift from his wife - seemed too autobiographical and personal to resonate with me.So it was with many of the poems collected here.

I remain a fan of his work, and I will certainly read other collections of his work._Nine Horses_, though, is not representative of his best work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very beautiful and witty
Collins is an expert in taking you on a journey that leads to somewhere - whatever this somewhere may be -and in making you aware of everything that is going on around and inside of us. The themes are deep, sad, humorous, appealing, enriching, challenging and enjoyable.

5-0 out of 5 stars Always a pleasure
Sometimes Billy Collins writes funny poems; others will break your heart. His words are always as sharp as a new knife in your gut.

5-0 out of 5 stars What?!
There is no way Michael Ferch is ever going to be the pine-scented air or any other object in the Collins universe. It's not because he's a bad person. He simply doesn't get it. The humor, that is. ... Read more

6. Questions About Angels: Poems (Pitt Poetry Series)
by Billy Collins
Hardcover: 91 Pages (2003-03)
list price: US$21.00 -- used & new: US$16.23
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0822942119
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Selected by Edward Hirsch for the National Poetry Series,Questions About Angels, Billy Collins's fourth book of poems, is availableagain. Remarkable for their wry, inquisitive voice and their sheerimaginative range, these poems are probing explorations, journeys into theunexpected. Questions About Angels reinforces Collins's place among themost talented poets of this generation. "Billy Collins can be downrightfunny; he's a parodist, a feigning trickster, an ironic, entertainingmagician-as-hero. . . . Without question, Collins writes with verve,gumption and deep intelligence. Not many poets can infuse humor with suchserious knowledge; not many can range so far throughout history and lookso freshly into the future. Not many can please so thoroughly and stillmanage to chide, prod, urge, criticize, and teach." - David Baker, PoetryAmazon.com Review
Billy Collins has a knack for making the familiar exotic and the arcaneinstantly accessible. His 1991 collection, Questions About Angels,is a loving and often amused search for "the infinite / permutations of thealphabet's small and capital letters." This phrase comes from an ode to hisfirst literary experience--and needless to say, Collins is more honest thanmost of us might be. Though he would later discover "frighteningHeathcliff" and "frightened Pip," and even Adam and Eve, fiction for himbegan with another famous pair: Dick and Jane. Throughout this wittyvolume, he explores other heroes who have expanded his vistas--includingGoya, Kafka, ancient mapmakers, Constable, and more than one lexicographerin hot pursuit of le mot juste:

Somewhere in the rolling hills and farm country
that lie beyond speech
Noah Webster and his assistants are moving
across the landscape tracking down a new word.
Collins makes you remember your initial delight in metaphor and simile. In "The First Geniuses," for instance, he imagines an era before "theorchestra of history / has had time to warm up," before inventors andartists could quite suss out how to use their gifts:
They have yet to discover fire, much less invent the wheel,
so they wander a world mostly dark and motionless
wondering what to do with their wisdom
like young girls wonder what to do with their hair.
Though his world is heavily populated by painting and literature, severalmelancholy, cigarette-packed love poems make it clear that people haveequal sway. Yet Collins is always intent on proving that art, too, isexperience. In "Metamorphosis" he dreams of waking up as the 42nd Streetbranch of the New York Public Library. "I would feel the pages of booksturning inside me like butterflies. / I would stare over Fifth Avenue witha perfectly straight face." No one should be surprised to discover that hiswish was partly granted. In 1992, that institution named Collins--with aperfectly straight face?--a "Literary Lion." --Kerry Fried ... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

4-0 out of 5 stars I love Billy Collins!
Billy Collins never disappoints. He is THE poet for those of us who don't usually "get" poetry!

4-0 out of 5 stars Not As Simple As It Looks
Billy Collin's poetry is complicatedly simple. That is, you read it and think, "I can write poems like this myself." Of course,most of us can't or we would take turns being poet laureate of the United States. His poems are clear and direct, like looking at the surface of a pond. The more you look, the more you see what's underneath. And his selection of subject matter is the nooks and crannies of life we often don't look in or don't think about enough to see how enriching they are.

4-0 out of 5 stars Questions About Self
As the title suggests, this collection of fifty-four poems by the former U.S. poet laureate is wondering.Billy Collins wonders about the afterlife.He wonders about fairy tales and cliches.He wonders about dreams and literature.He wonders about discovery and extinction.And when you get through it and try to pick out a theme, Billy Collins wonders about Billy Collins.

Despite favoring free verse in his poetry, Collins has made accessibility one of the hallmarks of his poetic style.This book is no exception: it could be used in junior high classes for its lyrical clarity, and college literature seminars for its depth.In "Putti In the Night," Collins ruminates on whether those baby-faced angels in Renaissance paintings could really embody divine providence.With "The Death of Allegory," he mourns the passing of eternal verities from our consciousness, while admitting that our modern variegated way of life can't admit of an all-or-nothing sense of morality.In "Memento Mori" he speculates on whether all the tchochkes and knick-knacks he's accumulated will be able to attend his funeral.

This book isn't an unqualified success.For instance, with the poem "The Afterlife," he steps out of the role of the questioner and come up with his own answers, which are too squishy and non-committal to be substantial.In "Wonder of the World" he talks about some monumental, um, thing without bothering to name it or describe it, and he produces the same kind of adjective-rich meringue I would have written in tenth grade.And in the appropriately names "Cliche," he compares his life to a book, "outspread like a bird with hundreds of thin paper wings."Like no first-year poetry student ever thought of THAT simile before.

Still, on balance, the weak bits don't dominate.This is a good book of poetry for people who don't read poetry and for people who do, or for students who think they don't like poetry.It's light, sprightly, inquisitive.It's fun to read, and it gives you enough to think about that you'll keep coming back.Just like a book of poems should.

4-0 out of 5 stars Accessible to the poetically challenged.
This book was a gift to me, and I am grateful to the giver.
She knows that I need stuff that makes sense!
That's one of the things I like most about this collection, it makes sense. It is accessible to the somewhat poetically challenged (as I consider myself to be). But beyond this... just the use of the words, the FIT of the words, the powerful (yet subtle) sort of surreptitious little attack in the end of each poem, always making the reader go... "Hmmm".
Collins is a wordsmith, and exquisitely so. Satisfying. He is to the typewriter what Bruce Hornsby is to the piano. You listen to both, and when they're done their thing, you say to yourself "It would be very difficult to have done that any better."

Billy Collins makes me feel like everything is a poem waiting to happen. This is because he chooses a lot of common occurrence, simple things to write about. Stuff like spending an afternoon examining ancient maps in a library while the rain falls outside. Or stopping to pick wisteria from the side of the road. Waking up with a wicked hangover. Kafka picking up a pen and promptly changing you into a goldfish or a lost mitten, or (better yet) the New York Public Library. How about having your own faithful table lamp showing up at your funeral... "like an old servant, dragging the tail of its cord / the small circle of mourners parting to make room."
Wonderful stuff. Everyday stuff like that.
He's witty and terse; thematically timeless / He's all in free verse, and totally rhymeless.
4.5 exploding stars!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Skeleton at a Typewriter
"I suppose I might be different from previous poet laureates by kind of emphasizing the playful or even screwball aspects of poetry." ~Billy Collins

Poetry can increase our capacity for viewing the world as a colorful, imaginative landscape of crisp words and vibrant images. In "Questions About Angels," Billy Collins presents the world in an almost animated fashion. At times his words glide across your mind like slow moving images in a movie or a long sweep of a lens. At other times, the "movie" is highly animated and takes on bizarre characteristics.

The first few poems flew by my mind. I was aware of the content of the poems, they were observations, memories of childhood. However, it wasn't until I reached "Reading Myself to Sleep" that I made a connection. While I had enjoyed the endings of the first few poems, suddenly, I was relating to emotions and images I had experienced.

"Is there a more gentle way to go into the night
than to follow an endless rope of sentences
and then slip drowsily under the surface of a page"

Then, I started to notice a unique imaginative twist to many of the poems and even an occasional tendency towards the macabre in "Purity."Billy Collins seems to see himself in an animated world where the laws of life and death don't always apply. While "Purity" is rather comical and shows a tongue-in-cheek attitude to the freedom he might be experiencing in his writing, "The Wires of the Night" is a solemn animation of death. While the skeleton in "Purity" is free, "Death" soaks itself into the poets mind and seems to present an instability and then a calm release from thought.

I had to smile while reading "Wolf" because it was just rather cute. We find a wolf reading a fairy tale and later in the evening he is found knocking over houses with his breath. I am sure this poem has a much deeper meaning. Devouring words and then acting upon them or perhaps words setting us into action or leading us to our fate.

While Billy Collins often seems to paint cartoons on the canvas of our minds ("Love in the Sahara" where a camel leaves a pack of cigarettes was rather comical) with a magical twist, the moment of brilliance, for me at least, was on page 70. He is describing himself as the New York Public Library.

"I would feel the pages of books turning inside me like butterflies."

What more can I say? This book lover has been charmed.

~The Rebecca Review ... Read more

7. 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day
Paperback: 400 Pages (2005-03-29)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$8.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812972961
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Come full circle with 180 new, exciting poems selected and introduced by Billy Collins.

Inspired by Billy Collins’s poem-a-day program for American high schools that he began through the Library of Congress, the original Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry was a gathering of clear, contemporary poems aimed at a wide audience. In 180 More, Collins continues his ambitious mission of exposing readers of all ages to the best of today’s poetry. Here are another 180 hospitable, engaging, reader-friendly poems, offering surprise and delight in a wide range of literary voices–comic, melancholy, reflective, irreverent. If poetry is the original travel literature, this anthology contains 180 vehicles ready to carry you away to unexpected places.

With poems by
Robert Bly
Carol Ann Duffy
Eamon Grennan
Mark Halliday
Jane Kenyon
David Kirby
Thomas Lux
Donna Masini
W. S. Merwin
Paul Muldoon
Carol Muske-Dukes
Vijay Seshadri
Naomi Shihab Nye
Gerald Stern
Ron Padgett
Linda Pastan
Victoria Redel
Franz Wright
Robert Wrigley
and many more ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Rammy's Review
Frankly, when I finished Billy Collins' introduction, which discussed the deficiencies in our system of teaching poetry in the U.S., I felt that I had my money's worth! It was an excellent explanation of why we all avoided poetry in our early years instead of embracing it. Obviously, I enjoyed the poems which were included but the intro really grabbed me from the gitgo. Rammy

5-0 out of 5 stars MIND OVER MATTER
Billy Collins may be the finest poet of our time.His works reflect that. They are treasures and joys that one can get into every single day to make your life a bit better and your mind ever so much sharper. This is a fine piece to own and makes a wonderful and thoughtful gift. Billy Collins is a national gift to us.

5-0 out of 5 stars 180 More: Extraaordinary poems
This is a great way to start reading poetry.Most are open poems and easy to read and understand.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great read!
Billy Collins really knows how to select the best of the best.Thank you!This is an excellent book.Every poet should have a copy.

4-0 out of 5 stars Poetry: the good, the bad, the drivel
Why do intelligent, well-educated, literate men such as myself avoid poetry as if you could catch a communicable disease from it? The answer is simple: poetry has become indecipherable, incomprehensible, and an academic exercise rather than an enjoyable one. The joke has been that the only people reading poetry anymore are poets who read each other's poems out of social obligation ("I'll read yours if you read mine"). Everyone else has pretty much given up on it. A lot of poetry is also, transparently, the scribblings of manic-depressives and individuals who have way too much time on their hands and who spend way too much of that time brooding rather than doing. There are too many poems out there that make strained similes and laughably absurd metaphors ("My lover's lips are like the first Model T Ford to roll off the assembly line...") There are also way too many poems that are what I call "Oprah poems". "Oprah poems" are poems, usually written by women, that consist of little more than a long cry (or angry, poisonous rant) over a relationship that has ended. In other words, chick lit for women in therapy. Get over it, sister. I would rather see someone dancing wildly and drunkenly on a dance floor to "I will survive" than to have to read one of those self-pitying epics in bathos - and that isn't saying much. Then there are the sweaty poems written by self-consciously libidinous males (usually, randy young academics) that are nothing more than tedious, thesaurus generated pornography by self-absorbed boy-men who must think that they are the only men alive in the universe with a sex drive. Otherwise, why would they think their experience was so novel that they were driven to write about it and publish it? Get over it, buddy; find some male friends, buy them a few drinks, and you might learn a few things.
Here is a volume that tries very hard to avoid all those faults. It succeeds - most of the time. I enjoyed 70% of these poems. They were refreshing, fun, funny, novel, inventive, a pleasure. Amazing! Poetry that can be enjoyed without codebreaker software to decipher and understand. Poetry that isn't embarassing for a man to read. There were still a good number that left me wondering what in the world they were trying to say. Is it too much to ask poets not to drift so far away from common sentence construction that the reader is bewildered? I couldn't get past the first sentences of a few of these - those old sins and faults of bad poetry still managed to sneak in on a number of these selections. But there were plenty here that surprised and delighted me. I am now going out to get the first volume. ... Read more

8. Picnic, Lightning
by Billy Collins
 Hardcover: 90 Pages (1998-03)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$9.12
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0822940663
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com Review
In these playful, conversational poems, Billy Collins immerses us in the minutiae of a life--cow viewing, parsley chopping, "buzzing around on espresso"--and restores a sense of wonder. In a voice half confessional, half avuncular, he takes us by the hand and shares his deepest secrets. Whether shoveling snow with the Buddha, releasing Emily Dickinson from her corsets, spoofing Auden and Wordsworth, or putting words in the mouths of Victoria's Secret models ("So what if I am wearing nothing / but this stretch panne velvet bodysuit ... Do you have a problem with that?!"), Collins is a pure delight. In one of several poems in which jazz figures prominently, he amusingly considers well-known but ne'er-acknowledged facial expressions such as "the languorous droop," "pained concentration," and "existential bemusement." Similarly, in "Marginalia" he caps off a list of scribblings with a pointed request for all to step forward who "have managed to graduate from college / without ever having written 'Man vs.Nature'" in a margin.

Though there is plenty to make us laugh, Collins is more than a mere comic genius. On the contrary, he balances the ribald with the poignant, the over-the-top with the serenely beautiful:

And the soul is up on the roof
in her nightdress, straddling the ridge,
singing a song about the wildness of the sea
until the first rip of pink appears in the sky.
Then, they all will return to the sleeping body
the way a flock of birds settles back into a tree...

In the opening poem ("A Portrait of the Reader with a Bowl of Cereal"), Collins defies William Butler Yeats's advice to "never speak directly, / as to someone at the breakfast table." Instead, he promises to "lean forward, / elbows on the table, / with something to tell you." One hundred pages later, we thank him for a promise kept. --Martha Silano ... Read more

Customer Reviews (41)

5-0 out of 5 stars I like Billy Collins, and here's why:
His work reminds me of a favorite uncle. He was so great to be around, and I always looked forward to his visits. He "got" me without me having to explain myself, and he spoke in my own language of feeling and understanding. And I like Billy Collins's work the same way. He's funny and accessible. His work speaks of a set of universal experiences, condensed cleanly and sparsely. And he presents his world to us and we can all step right into it. His work is unpretentious and avoids being deliberately obtuse and precious. And being a gently mocking, self-deprecating voice in the middle of a "me, me, me" world, warms and cheers me. I really like that in a poet! I'm happy beyond works he is enjoying such acclaim. He deserves it. Mary Oliver and Billy Collins are two of the best poets around. And being "Billy" instead of William makes him cool in my eyes. So, that's why I like him and his poetry.

REVIEW: Collins is a distinctly American poet who is adept at highlighting the most mundane moments of our lives and examining them in such a way that you'll never again take for granted the simple pleasures of reading an encyclopedia, shoveling snow, leafing through a Victoria's Secret catalog, listening to jazz, or chopping wood. Some have declared his poems too simplistic, too ordinary; but I think that it is precisely their understatedness that adds to their tremendous appeal and their overall effectiveness. True: this does allow for him to produce merely perfunctory work ("To A Stranger Born In Some Distant Country Hundreds Of Years From Now", "I Chop Some Parsley While Listening To Art Blakey's Version Of 'Three Blind Mice'", etc.), but it also enables him to craft some amazing observations and/or come to some striking epiphanies ("Shoveling Snow With Buddha", "I Go Back To The House For A Book", "This Much I Do Remember", "Japan", "Victoria's Secret", "Egypt", "Lines Lost Among Trees", "Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes", "Aristotle", etc.) that evoke the clarity and dramatic pulse of a haiku. Perhaps in certain literary circles some deem him overly praised. Yet, most will find his conversational tone and insightful turns and asides tremendously appealing (especially for those who don't normally read poetry, or who find it too obtuse and difficult to connect with on a personal level). As such his verse might be the perfect gateway to a lifelong love of the art form. HARSH LANGUAGE: none. VIOLENCE: about 4 slight instances. SEXUAL REFERENCES: about 4 slight instances. DRUG REFERENCES: a few mentions of cigarette smoking, drinking, and Art Pepper's drug habit.

5-0 out of 5 stars Picnic, Lightning
I really enjoyed Picnic, Lightning. I like poetry a lot. I really enjoyed this book because you can relate yourself to it in so many differnt ways. Anyone who reads a poem from this book and interpret it in their own way. You can make the poem be whatever you want it to be.

For example, i was reading Aristotle and the futher i got into the poem i started to think he might have been talking to a high school student and giving them a dose of reality. I started to ponder this and realized that the title was Aristotle. Billy Collins was speaking of life itself. Anybody can relate to a poem if you just give it the time of day.

Overall, the book was nicely put together. I enjoy the fact that Billy Collilns isn't like every other poet. He takes ordinary things that would happen in a day and elaborates. He has his own style and he sticks with it no matter what critics may say. I was really into the book. It's one i can say "hits the spot."

5-0 out of 5 stars A note to the more gullible members of the audience
I love Billy Collins, he is a genious poet.He can take the most mundane topics, turning ten, a new day, a peach, and make them in to fascinating topics to read about.

I would like to note however - the paradelle is NOT a real form of poetry from 11th century France.He made it up.You've been hoaxed if you believed this.It may be hard to write - but intentionally so.The man prefers free verse - he was mocking fixed styles.

So if you here any comments about the questionable quality of "A Paradelle for Susan" - try to remember - this was intentional!

Thank you.

4-0 out of 5 stars good
I don't know what else to say about Billy Collins that I haven't said elsewhere. He's a remarkable poet, who does his thing and does it well. Picnic, Lightning is a pretty solid collection of poems, though if you have Collins's selected poems there's no need to pick this one up. Those that weren't included in the selected aren't very good, with the exception of "I Go Back to the House For a Book," which I think is a marvelous poem and should have been included in the selected poems. ... Read more

9. Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds
Hardcover: 288 Pages (2009-10-05)
list price: US$22.95 -- used & new: US$14.18
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0231150849
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

In this beautiful collection of poems and paintings, Billy Collins, former U.S. poet laureate, joins with David Allen Sibley, America's foremost bird illustrator, to celebrate the winged creatures that have inspired so many poets to sing for centuries. From Catullus and Chaucer to Robert Browning and James Wright, poets have long treated birds as powerful metaphors for beauty, escape, transcendence, and divine expression.

Here, in this substantial anthology, more than one hundred contemporary and classic poems are paired with close to sixty original, ornithologically precise illustrations. Part poetry collection, part field guide, part art book,Bright Wings presents verbal and visual interpretations of the natural world and reminds us of our intimate connection to the "bright wings" around us. Each in their own way, these poems and pictures honor the enchanting creatures that have been, and continue to be, longtime collaborators with the poet's and painter's art.

Poet and bird pairings include: Wallace Stevens and the Blackbird; Emily Dickinson and the Robin; Marianne Moore and the Frigate Pelican; Thomas Hardy and the Goldfinch; Sylvia Plath and the Pheasant; John Updike and the Seagull; Walt Whitman and the Eagle; Billy Collins and the Sparrow.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
This isbeautiful book of poems and the illustrations of the birds are just lovely.You must like poems and birds to appreciate this piece of art.

5-0 out of 5 stars poetic ornithology
This book came in excellent condition,like new.The poems selected are of high quality, and the illustrations by David Sibley are outstanding -- and they should be since he is a bird artist who has gained renown for his field guides.Billy Collins selection of poems, along with Sibley's art work, make this a highly desirable volume.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book
This beautiful anthology features poems from antiquity as well as contemporary pieces. There's a wonderful introduction by Billy Collins, and the illustrations are gorgeous! I don't know if it's out in paperback, but buy the hardcover edition: its weight FEELS good!

5-0 out of 5 stars Lovely edition
I have this book on my wishlist but recently purchased it as a going away present for a friend and fellow bird lover. It is a beautiful book with many selections of bird poems and lovely, accurate bird illustrations by David Sibley. If you buy gifts for yourself, get this. Otherwise, put it on your wishlist too and hope that someone close to you fulfillls your desires very soon.

5-0 out of 5 stars Baright Wings
This is beautiful collection of delightful poems about birds of all kinds from all kinds of poets!I loved the intro by Billy Collins, one of my all time favorites, and also admired the beautiful photos of the birds being written about. ... Read more

10. Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry
Paperback: 352 Pages (2003-03-25)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$7.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812968875
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A dazzling new anthology of 180 contemporary poems, selected and introduced by America’s Poet Laureate, Billy Collins.

Inspired by Billy Collins’s poem-a-day program with the Library of Congress, Poetry 180 is the perfect anthology for readers who appreciate engaging, thoughtful poems that are an immediate pleasure.

A 180-degree turn implies a turning back—in this case, to poetry. A collection of 180 poems by the most exciting poets at work today, Poetry 180 represents the richness and diversity of the form, and is designed to beckon readers with a selection of poems that are impossible not to love at first glance. Open the anthology to any page and discover a new poem to cherish, or savor all the poems, one at a time, to feel the full measure of contemporary poetry’s vibrance and abundance.

With poems by Catherine Bowman, Lucille Clifton, Billy Collins, Dana Gioia, Edward Hirsch, Galway Kinnell, Kenneth Koch, Philip Levine, Thomas Lux, William Matthews, Frances Mayes, Paul Muldoon, Naomi Shihab Nye, Sharon Olds, Katha Pollitt, Mary Jo Salter, Charles Simic, David Wojahn, Paul Zimmer, and many more. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

4-0 out of 5 stars hummm
well i love poetry, some of these were alright, some were way too out there, and others were amazing, i guess t depends on the reader, because a poem can mean one thing to you and another to me, that's the beauty of it, all in all...it was pretty neat to read!

2-0 out of 5 stars Very mediocre collection
Collins states in the introduction that he hadn't heard of many of these poets; I think the reason is that they aren't all that good.

There are a few good poems interspered with some pretty pedestrian ones.

This is sort of the hospital food of poetry...try to please everyone by upsetting no one.

3-0 out of 5 stars FOR SCHOOL
It is alright...I needed it for school.My 10 grade english teacher enjoys it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good for Teachers
This is a good approach to 'teaching' poetry.Collins selects contemporary poems that students can relate to and sometimes laugh at.The website is very helpful in guiding teachers through Collins' philosophy of how to use poetry in the classroom.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Fine Poetry Anthology
In this anthology, edited by former poet laureate Billy Collins, we see many styles of poems.I originally purchased this book for a college poetry writing course but I found the poems pleasurable to read on my own time, not just to read for critical analysis.Collins' intro contains some insights as to how a poem forms for a writer and also a good story about a poetry reading. The anthology features many contemporary writers and the poems range in length and subject matter.If you are looking for a good poetry anthology to learn to read and/or write poetry, I heartily recommend this book.I think readers of any ages will enjoy it. ... Read more

11. The Art Of Drowning (Pitt Poetry Series)
by Billy Collins
Hardcover: 112 Pages (1995-06-29)
list price: US$21.00 -- used & new: US$16.38
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0822938936
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (17)

4-0 out of 5 stars Poetry for those who aren't big on poetry
Do you know someone who claims to hate all poetry but you desperately want to prove them wrong? Pick up this book for them. Billy Collins writes about every day life in a poetic but totally accessible way and often humorous way.

I think my favorite in this collection is "On Turning Ten" which is about turning ten years old but from the perspective of a ten year old who feels turning ten is turning very very old. Trust me its funny and makes you think about the last time you thought you were turning "old".

Not every single poem is "funny" per se either so if you are looking for some more serious themes and tone, you can find that as well but still in the easy to read style that Collins has in all his work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Always enchanting and very thrilling
Collin's verses are enchanting and thrilling. They can take up banalities and profound matters in an exquisite manner.
The daily life is portrayed in these verses:

"In a while, one of us will go up to bed
and the other one will follow.
Then we will slip below the surface of the night
into miles of water, drifting down and down
to the dark, soundless bottom
until the weight of dreams pulls us lower still,
below the shale and layered rock"

Saddening in a way, but so realistic.
Collins is also great in making the reader connect with past memories or with future prospects.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Art of Drowning
My review is for those who aren't big poetry buffs. For those of us who think poetry could very well be a dead art or something only intellectuals would enjoy.A friend started sending me poems by Billy Collins and I enjoyed them so much I bought The Art of Drowning.His writing is so accessible to our modern sensibilities and resonate with our day to day lives. Check out "Days".The words he chose and rhythms he created really drew me in.Hope you enjoy all the poems in this book as much as I did.

5-0 out of 5 stars Nothing is measly.
Reading Collins has given me a greater appreciation for the potential of free verse. He has affected my own writing in what I am currently interpreting as a positive way...
I've forgotten how to rhyme / But that's O.K. / Perhaps was tyme!
These poems evoke recognition in the reader. For the most part, we can participate in them. They deal with simple things we can identify with. Like saxophones, dreams, clouds, writing as a craft, the Blues, a really good cigarette... and meat.
And speaking of meat, I have christened Osso Buco as my favorite Collins poem to date. I think of it as a little hymn to domestic contentment, which is "something you don't hear much about in poetry." But there is a wonderful undertone running through this poem... that the great things in history did not necessarily take place in the atmosphere of satiated bliss here described, and at first glance, seemingly lauded.
This is what I love so much about his stuff. The intelligent playfulness, the game involving what is said, and what is meant. What we see on the page is like the one-sixth of the iceberg above water... there is so much beneath, in and around the words.
There is always something more to think about when you come to the last line of a Collins poem.

There is nothing trite about this collection. I've taken about a month to read through these fifty poems, because each is like a meal in itself. The book is not a party-platter of bite-size hors d'oeuvres. Nothing is measly. And Osso Buco is a feast.
You owe it to yourself to eat... I mean read, The Art Of Drowning.
T. y. L. i. I.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sarcastic, Poignant and Occasionally Comical
"In a while, one of us will go up to bed
and the other one will follow.
Then we will slip below the surface of the night
into miles of water, drifting down and down
to the dark, soundless bottom
until the weight of dreams pulls us lower still,
below the shale and layered rock"
~Osso Buco

Firstly, I want to say that I love the Pittsburgh Poetry Series. Each book is about 100 pages and you can read one book right before going to bed. Poetry seems to calm my mind and encourages more vivid dreams.

"The Art of Drowning" is an interesting collection. It is not as "cartoon" focused as "Questions about Angels." Although, there is some silliness to be had in "Nightclub" where we are amused by songs no one would sing. It was funnier when my husband read it to me. I'm not sure why. He and I were reading in bed and I asked him to read me some poems. He liked "The Biography of a Cloud," especially the lines: "but early one morning over Arizona it held the distinction of being the only one in the sky." He loves going to Arizona, so he could easily imagine the lonely cloud drifting across an open sky.

You hardly imagine that reading poetry in bed would be anything less than romantic, yet with many of Billy Collins' poems, this is exactly what happens. Apparently I'm not the only one who was highly amused by "Nightclub." My husband was just calmly reading and I was lost in laughter as if there were some private joke only I was acknowledging.

Many of the poems seem quite intimate, like cozy conversations with the reader. There is an inner vision and motion. At times Billy Collins peers into frankness as it looks back starkly and at other times his matter-of-fact observations show irony. Then, suddenly we are drowned in nostalgia, awakened by dread or simply wondering at the sheer imagination it takes to write the last few lines of "Tuesday."

You have to love the "book recommendations" in "Canada," or the story of trees reciting poems in "Fiftieth Birthday Eve." Collins turns poetry into magic. These are not just words dancing before your eyes, they are living creatures jumping off the page into our imagination. His choice of words is like the choice of colors for a painting, yet the painting is occurring in minds. The better your imagination, the better the poem. You must submit the canvas for the artwork. You can remain closed, only seeing the words, or let the words into your mind and allow them to paint vivid images, recollection, connect with past memories or propel you into thinking about the future.

The title of this book refers to a poem called: The Art of Drowning and it deals with the concept of your life flashing before your eyes. Here, Billy Collins takes a rather irreverent look at what happens when you die and why your life might not necessarily "flash" but might take other forms.

Billy Collins' poems amaze me, not only because he can adjust his focus in a variety of amusing and out-of-the-box ways. He amazes due to his ability to make each poem an emotion or a moment in time, representative of his present condition. There are moments of longing, the dreams of travel and other places he'd rather be. There is also a comfort in the present and common life or solitude when observing nature.

Many poems (in general) make me feel that I am on the outside looking in. Billy Collins' poems make me feel that I am on the inside, looking out as Billy Collins observes his world.

He does at times seem to be an observer as words break on the page. There are undercurrents of emotions surging inside him and occasionally they break on the page as sarcasm, irony or a sheer appreciation for being. In "Conversion" he takes us into the past while in "Death Beds" he takes us into the future. Here we think about where we will be when we die. Not something I think about daily, but an interesting concept.

"I would hope for a window,
the usual frame of reference,
a clear sky, or think high clouds,
an abundance of sun, a cool pillow."

"Medium" is stunning because it explains how Collins would love to write on more surfaces than paper and I'm sure he realized that each time he writes a poem, he is writing on our hearts or across our minds and many of his poems are unforgettable and seep into your soul. Some of the poems will even drown you in laughter.

~The Rebecca Review ... Read more

12. Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes
by Billy Collins
Paperback: 148 Pages (2000-01)
list price: US$16.50 -- used & new: US$9.07
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0330376500
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
'Billy Collin's is one of my favourite poets in the world' Carol Ann DuffyReaders will only have to open this book at random to realize the privation a life without Billy Collins has been.A writer of immense grace and humanity, Billy Collin's shows how the great forces of history and nature converge on the tiniest details of our lives - and in doing so presents them in a new radiance. He is also unbelievably funny.'The most popular poet in America' New York Times'Billy Collin's writes lovely poems...Limpid, gently and consistently startling, more serious than they seem, they describe all the worlds that are and were and some others besides' John Updike'Billy Collin's medium is a rare amalgam of accessibility and intelligence. I'd follow this man's mind anywhere. Expect to be surprised' Michael Donaghy'Smart, his strings tuned and resonant, his wonderful eye looping over the things, events and ideas of the world, rueful, playful, warm voiced, easy to love' E. Annie Proulx ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Who can resist anything by Billy Collins?
I suppose it's possible but not his collection in particular. There are poems in Taking Off...that I return to time and again. A wonderful achievement. No wonder he was our poet laureate.

5-0 out of 5 stars A delicious collection in every way
Ah, the pleasure Billy Collins brings his readers!This collection is spilling forth with gems:Wry poems.Gentle ones.Discreetly but breathtakingly erotic poems, as with the title poem.Poems that are delicate.Elegant and elegiac poems. Poems that make one chuckle.Poems that make one shake with laugther.Pointed, ironic, bemused, observing, warm poems.And windows.Lots of windows. ... Read more

13. Monologue of a Dog
by Wislawa Szymborska
Hardcover: 112 Pages (2005-11-07)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$2.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0151012202
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

From a writer whom Charles Simic calls "one of the finest poets living" comes a collection of witty, compassionate, contemplative, and always surprising poems. Szymborska writes with verve about everything from love unremembered to keys mislaid in the grass. The poems will appear, for the first time, side by side with the Polish originals, in a book to delight new and old readers alike.

a bumptious, stuck-up word.
It should be written in quotes.
It pretends to miss nothing,
to gather, hold, contain, and have.
While all the while it's just
a shred of a gale.

(20051101) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars polish and english translation
This is a set of selected poems by Wieslawa Szymborska.It is a perfect gift for an English speaking person, who likes to read poetry and/or is learning Polish.I'm Polish and I like reading both Polish and English versions.I like the arrangement of this book, each line is translated on the corresponding line on the following page.

5-0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Poet
Yet another collection to make me sorry I will never write this well.
But still glad that someone does!

5-0 out of 5 stars A contemplative poetry collection
Featuring both the original Polish text and a full English translation, Monologue Of A Dog is a contemplative poetry collection musing about elements as diverse as unremembered love, mislaid keys in the grass, the district firemen's ball, and the wonders of the cosmos. Author Wislawa Szymborska, who earned the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996, offers poignantly insightful lyrics that cut straight to the emotional quick of the reader. A Memory: We were chatting / and suddenly stopped short. / A lovely girl stepped onto the terrace, / so lovely, / too lovely / for us to enjoy our trip. // Basia shot her husband a stricken look. / Krystyna took Zbyszek's hand / reflexively. / I thought: I'll call you, / tell you, don't come just yet, / they're predicting rain for days. // Only Agnieszka, a widow, / met the lovely girl with a smile.
... Read more

14. The Poets Laureate Anthology
Hardcover: 762 Pages (2010-10-04)
list price: US$39.95 -- used & new: US$16.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393061817
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
The first anthology to gather poems by the forty-three poets laureate of the United States.As a record of poetry, The Poets Laureate Anthology is groundbreaking, charting the course of American poetry over the last seventy-five years, while being, at the same time, a pleasure to read, full of some of the world’s best-known poems and many new surprises. Elizabeth Hun Schmidt has gathered and introduced poems by each of the forty-three poets who have been named our nation’s poets laureate since the post (originally called Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress) was established in 1937. Poets range from Robert Pinsky, William Carlos Williams, and Elizabeth Bishop to Charles Simic, Billy Collins, and Rita Dove. Schmidt’s spirited introductions place the poets and their poems in historical and literary context and shine light on the interesting and often uneasy relationship between politics and art. This is an inviting, monumental collection for everyone’s library, containing much of the best poetry written in America over the last century. 43 black-and-white photographs ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful collection!
This volume introduced me to great American poets that I was not previously familar with! This is a great collection! I can now appreciate to a greater degree my own American heritage. ... Read more

15. Horoscopes for the Dead: Poems
by Billy Collins
Hardcover: 128 Pages (2011-03-29)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$16.20
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Asin: 1400064929
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16. The Apple That Astonished Paris
by Billy Collins
Paperback: 61 Pages (2006-04-30)
list price: US$16.50 -- used & new: US$4.72
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1557288232
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In 1988 the University of Arkansas Press published Billy Collins’s THE APPLE THAT ASTONISHED PARIS, his "first real book of poems," as he describes it in a new, delightful preface written expressly for this new printing to help celebrate both the Press’s twenty-fifth anniversary and this book, one of the Press’s all-time best sellers.In his usual witty and dry style, Collins writes, "I gathered together what I considered my best poems and threw them in the mail." After "what seemed like a very long time" Press director Miller Williams, a poet as well, returned the poems to him in the "familiar self-addressed, stamped envelope." He told Collins that there was good work here but that there was work to be done before he’d have a real collection he and the Press could be proud of: "Williams’s words were more encouragement than I had ever gotten before and more than enough to inspire me to begin taking my writing more seriously than I had before."

This collection includes some of Collins’s most anthologized poems, including "Introduction to Poetry," "Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House," and "Advice to Writers." Its success over the years is testament to Collins’s talent as one of our best poets, and as he writes in the preface, "this new edition . . . is a credit to the sustained vibrancy of the University of Arkansas Press and, I suspect, to the abiding spirit of its former director, my first editorial father." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Amazing Billy Collins
I don't have this book in hand, since I bought it as a gift.Over the years, I have often given Billy's books as gifts.He is a wonderful poet.Makes me laugh.Sometimes makes me tear up.

4-0 out of 5 stars I think it's his best...[timorous]
I haven't read all his other works, so take this with a grain of salt:

From what I've read, this volume is his best. "Vanishing Point", "Hunger"--just two examples of what made me buy this book without hesitation. I am very impressed by this collection of his work. It doesn't have "Memory" or "Lanyard" in it, but it's still bloody wonderful. It's my favorite of his individual volumes. Can't go wrong with it even if it isn't his best.

4-0 out of 5 stars Some gems
If you know and enjoy Billy's poems this volume is a necessity. There are some earlier pieces that are brilliantly focused and tight -- like a joke and a punchline. Others are more subtle, but always clear in language andmeaning. There is no contemporary poet that I would recommend more highly.

Also check out The Best Cigarette CD for a great collection of Billyreading his work. ... Read more

17. Poets and Artists (O&S, Sept. 2009): Self Portrait Issue
by Bob Hicok, Billy Collins, Denise Duhamel, Ron Androla, William Stobb, David Lehman, I.M. Bess, Grady Harp
Paperback: 124 Pages (2009-09-14)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$21.27
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1449507921
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Special issue featuring self-portraits in poems and art. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful publication
A diverse collection of art and poetry exploring the theme of "self-portrait". The poetry is honest and powerful. There are highly published as well as lesser-known poets featured, which provides a nice mix. This is a beautiful publication, well worth the purchase price.

5-0 out of 5 stars Theme and Variations: A very special Poets and Artists Concept
This is an issue of Poets and Artists that is very much a tribute to publisher/editor Didi Menendez' ingenuity.The Self Portraits of artists are excellent and easy to understand, but it is the self portraits by poets that are startling and insightful. A series of will-o-the-wisp thoughts that grab you later, after thinking, after smiling, and after the first run through. She even got those of us who review to come forward!Grady Harp, September 09 ... Read more

18. Who Loves You, Billy? (Collins Red Storybooks)
by Bernard Ashley
Paperback: 64 Pages (2000-04-03)

Isbn: 0006754597
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Who Loves You Billy?
A great book.Ok I'm 25, but I love to read kids books in between novels.This was a great read.Opened my eyes to how easily kids can become confused with acceptance from their parents.

It's an amusing tale of how Billy wants packed lunches so he can have notes too.He gets the lunches but not the notes, so he writes his own.He gets caught out in the most unexpected way.

I recommend this book to any adult who wants a quick amusing read.To children, I say READ IT.It's a great book that deals with a real life problem. ... Read more

19. Great Irish Heroes: Michael Collins, Billy The Kid, Teddy Roosevelt, Ned Kelly: Fifty True Stories of Irish Men and Women Who Changed the World
by Danny Conlon, Alan Barter
Paperback: 234 Pages (2010-04-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$8.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1844548821
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From Billy the Kid to President Roosevelt, this is a spectacular collection of true stories of Irish men and women who have changed the course of history: John Barry, the poor Irishman who made waves as the father of the US navy; William Brown, the Irish cabin boy who sank the invading Spanish fleet; Daniel Joseph Keogh, the young lad from County Longford who became the hero of the Korean war; and more. They are all united in having carried the glory of the Irish to the four corners of the earth. This book perfectly displays the indomitable nature and good humor of all those who hail from the Emerald Isle.
... Read more

20. Ballistics: Poems. Billy Collins
by Billy Collins
Paperback: 128 Pages (2009-06)
-- used & new: US$8.33
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0330464388
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Editorial Review

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It is no understatement to say that Billy Collins has found poetry a whole new audience across the English-speaking world. No poet writing today insists on such open, direct and courteous engagement with the reader, and no poet has shown the common experience to be such an astonishing and singular one. Collins' gift is to make the reader believe that everything is unfolding in real time and in living speech; his poetry always has the sheen and vibrancy of the present moment. While "Ballistics" addresses the most grave and serious of subjects - death and love, solitude and aging - Collins' light touch and lighter spirit never desert him. Even in his darkest verses, Collins never fails to remind us of the sheer miracle, comedy and strangeness of our simply being here. 'The teasing, buoyant images in Ballistics are firmly anchored in visions of too-quiet mornings, droplets of water, cold marble and bare light bulbs. But he now writes, more simply and assuredly than he used to, about the flights of imagination that keep melancholy at bay ..."Ballistics" glows with the confidence of a writer fully aware of his work's power to delight' - "New York Times". ... Read more

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