Monday, April 25, 2011

The Trouble with Poetry by Billy Collins

Book Jacket

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' poetry is a window through which we see our lives as if for the first time.


I don't read poetry often, but when the mood strikes, I am very easily mesmerized.  A poet's ability to condense a complex emotion or event into a perfect string of words astounds me, like Collin's meditation on time described as, "questions about the past and his tall, evasive sister, the future."  GUH.

I love Billy Collins because he is, well, easy to read.  I can get into classic poetry, but let's be honest, I don't always like to stretch my brain muscles with old English or iambic pentameter.  Collins writes in free verse, and he writes like we speak, albiet with more beauty.  Still, this was not my favorite collection of Collins' poetry.  Though not the best, there were some really fantastic poems that I loved, including: 


Some like the mountains, some like the seashore,
Jean-Paul Belmondo says
to the camera in the opening scene.

Some like to sleep face up,
some like to sleep on their stomachs,
I am thinking here in bed--

some take the shape of murder victims
flat on their backs all night,
others float face down on the dark waters.

Then there are those like me
who prefer to sleep on their sides,
knees brought up to the chest,

head resting on a crooked arm
and a soft fist touching the chin,
which is the way I would like to be buried,

curled up in a coffin
in a fresh pair of cotton pajamas,
a down pillow under my weighty head.

After a lifetime of watchfulness
and nervous vigilance,
I will be more than ready for sleep,

so never mind the dark suit,
the ridiculous tie
and the pale limp hands crossed on the chest.

Lower me down in my slumber,
tucked into myself
like the oldest fetus on earth,

and while the cows look over the stone wall
of the cemetery, let me rest here
in my earthly little bedroom,

my lashes glazed with ice,
the roots of trees inching nearer,
and no dreams to frighten me anymore.

Three out of five monkeys on a mantel.

Release Date:  October 2005
Reading Level:  Grade 8+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection:  Not yet a part of Dunlap's collection.

Don't believe me?  Check out these reviews of The Trouble with Poetry:

Blogging for a Good Book
The Bluestocking Society

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