Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems

ISBN: 0375755195
ISBN 13: 9780375755194
By: Billy Collins

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Reader's Thoughts

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 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)


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 derivesfrom 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 outsidewhen Ordinary Time slouches past in a topcoat,rain runing off the brim of his hat,the late edition like a flag in his pocket.

Terri Jacobson

A really good collection of poems from his previous work. Billy Collins remains my favorite contemporary poet.


** spoiler alert ** Not all poetry has to be heavy and dark and stormy and stressful. It can be light and boyant and playful and inventive, too. Critics get down on Silly Billy for his apparent friviolity, which is really only in surface and style.He's pretty mad, bad, and dangerous to know if you take another look. He has this gracefulness with language and pacing and statement, it really is limpid, like Updike says on the back. Unpretentious and consistenly lovely and self-deprecating while tackling real meaty issuesthat keep philosophers drunk and desperate and depressed.


I don't like poetry. I mean, I like this poem, and that poem. The Lady of Shalott, The Raven, you know, sort of the "usual suspects" of poetry. But I never actively seek out poetry. I don't like to curl up with a good book of poems on a rainy day. I don't "get" a lot of it, and I'm irritated by many of the modern poets. But my sister, who is an English teacher, introduced me to Billy Collins' poetry a few years ago, and I was hooked. Funny, deceptively simple, and yet tender and insightful at the same time. The Lanyard isn't in this collection, but you can find it online and should do so at once. Why I Do Not Keep A Gun in the House is in this collection. As is Sonnet. He writes a great many poems about being a poet, which far from being pretentious, are in fact funny and endearing. He plays with words in fun ways that don't say, "Look at me! I'm so clever!" but rather, "Look at this! And this! Isn't the language marvelous?!" This is a slim and wonderful little book of poems, whether you've read Collins before or not, you should own this.


Unit 5 Discussion PostSailing Alone Around the Room, by America’s Poet Laureate Billy Collins is not a typical book of poetry, where readers must hunker down and seriously focus with a dictionary strapped to their side. Collins’ engrossing book can be devoured in an evening, and can even be thought of as a nice beach book because it is pleasurable and entertaining (but not meant to discount it’s ingenuity). His delivery is breezy and conversational so that before you know it, you have finished the book before you actually wanted it to end. The book’s fast and easy free verse makes you feel like you are having a one-on-one conversation with the author in an intimate setting. Collins notices the daily occurrences of life people often ignore and writes about them in vivid detail. Collins is humdrum, funny, perceptive, and somber in this collection of poems. To examine how he can change tones within one poem, let’s examine: “Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep A Gun in the House.” The poem starts out somewhat monotonous; he incorporates ordinary language and repetition: “but I can still hear him muffled under the music/barking, barking, barking.” Then suddenly, his poems hits you midstream with humor: “as if Beethoven had included a part for barking dogs” and “barking dog solo.” And finally, Collins universalizes the poem, to make a poignant observation about a famous musician, “Beethoven as an innovative genius.” This is his signature structural method for pulling us through the poem and creating a short, condensed story that evoke an array of emotions.Furthermore, Collins has a way of touching on universal themes (time’s passage, tragedy, simple joys, God, sadness, death, afterlife, grief, etc.) through commonplace situations and scenes (the beach, kitchen, library, bar, school, writer’s desk, backyard, etc.). I’ve pulled out my favorite poetic lines in the book, that I also deem thematic and universal: “There is nothing like practice to devour the hours of life” (themes: practicing art, time’s passage) - Serenade“Nothing will be as it was a few hours ago, back in the glorious past.” (themes: regret, time’s passage) – Lines Composed Over Three Thousand Miles from Tintern AbbeyCollins also describes the art of writing in new and creative metaphors, which I appreciate and adore as a writer:“Words are food thrown down on the ground for other words to eat” (themes: words are cannibalistic, greedy, always wanting more) - Workshop“The unclothed body is autobiography./Every lake is a vowel, every island a noun” (theme: words are connected and fit together; words are natural and mimic real life) – Winter SyntaxFinally, Collins uses simple language to convey complex ideas, and that’s why his poetry feels so accessible and relatable. He has tapped into a reader’s need for clarity while also stimulating curiosity. To put it plainly as Collins often does, he’s a genius.


Billy Collins makes everyone feel like they can read poetry and makes most people feel like they can write it, and for that I thank him. That should be said first. As for the poems themselves, even this Greatest Hits collection is hit or miss. He's at times charming and irresistibly funny and at other times frustratingly self-aware. Among my favorites: "Winter Syntax," "Purity," "Marginalia," "Picnic, Lightning," and the clear favorite "Reading an Anthology of Chinese Poems of the Sung Dynasty I Pause to Admire the Length and Clarity of Their Titles."


While on a bit of a poetry spree, I picked up some books by former U.S. Poet Laureate, Billy Collins, including: The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems, Horoscopes for the Dead, Ballistics, Sailing Alone Around the Room and Picnic, Lightning. I am a big fan of Collins’ work and had high expectations that were more than met by each collection. Each of them were filled with the quirky humor, wry observations and moments of lyrical musings that I have come to expect from Billy Collins. His accessible, almost conversational, style makes his work deceptively easy to take in and enjoy and yet, despite the simplicity of his diction and tone, his poems are full of thought-provoking wit and insight that I truly enjoy. Sailing Alone Around the Room is an excellent introduction to Billy Collins' work because it combines new poems with selections from past collections. There is so much to love about this book but some of my favorites included: “Another Reason I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House,” “The Lesson,” “Introduction to Poetry,” “The Death of Allegory,” “Forgetfulness,” “First Reader,” “Madmen,” “Sonnet” (my favorite Billy Collins poem of all time) and “Flight of the Reader”


Age vitam plenissime Take a walk in the parkperhaps of an evening,moonlight dancing lightlythrough the swaying branches of the willow,reflected off the water,where the heron feeds,Illuminating our path.There is a slight breezea welcome silencelater we will have a fireand 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 itand leave its letters fallingthrough 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 youBut today I am staying home,standing at one window, then another,or putting on a jacket and wandering around outsideor sitting in a chairwatching the trees full of light- green budsunder the low hood of the sky.And when I begin to turn slowlyI can feel the whole house turning with me, rotating free of the earth.the sun and the moon in all the windowsmove, too, with the tips of my fingersthis is the wheel I just inventedto roll through the rest of my lifeWhy 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 houseUntil the night makes me realizethat this place where they pace and danceunder colored lights,is made of nothing but autumn leaves,red, yellow, gold,waiting for a sudden gust of windto scatter it allinto the dark spacesbeyond 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 pavilionof paper and inkwhere a cup of tea is cooling,where the windows darken then fill with light.A book like this always has a wayof soothing the nerves,quieting the riotous surf of informationthat foams around my waist.But it is hard to speak of these thingshow the voices of light enter the bodyand begin to recite their storieshow the earth holds us painfully againstits breast made of humus and brambleshow we who will soon be gone regardthe entities that continue to returngreener than ever, spring water flowingthrough a meadow and the shadows of cloudspassing over the hills and the groundwhere we stand in the tremble of thoughttaking the vast outside into ourselves.Still, let me know before you set out,come knock on my doorand 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.

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 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

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 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.

Chase Von

I have to be honest in writing this review because that's my nature. I bought this book years ago while on active duty in the military and it was a busy time, a time made even busier because I was burning the mid night oil working on my own book. I heard about "America's Poet Laureate" Billy Collins and since that's in my vein so to speak, figured I had to check him out. For those of you who gave this book less than a five, I encourage you to read it again when you have actual time to really read it. I didn't, though I read the words front to back but I didn't really absorb what was there. I even contacted a friend and fellow poet and someone I look at as a brother and Mentor and said some of it's good, but if this is all it takes to be a "Poet Laureate" you and I are both going to be famous! In his wisdom because he's a bit older and I believe wiser he told me, "I think you're going to have to read it again brother." I didn't... I put it on the shelf and quite frankly didn't think about Billy Collins until I heard about another book he had written called, "The Trouble With Poetry." I checked that one out at the library. And loved it! Then a bell went off and I was like I of course have his other book. Friends, it was like reading a new book! Things that quite frankly went by my busy mind the first time made me feel like WOW... I get it now! An example of that is on every page to be blunt regarding my experience but here's one just to prove my point. The Lesson In the morning when I found History snoring heavily on the couch, I took down his overcoat from the rack and placed it's weight over my shoulder blades It would protect me on the cold walk into the village for milk and the paper and I figured he would not mind, not after our long conversation the night before. How unexpected his blustering anger when I returned covered with icicles, the way he rummaged through the huge pockets making sure no major battle or English queen had fallen out and become lost in the deep snow By Billy Collins From "Sailing Alone Around the Room" A busy mind or unfocused mind would say what is this about? Next page.. Maybe the next poem will be better. A mind that isn't cluttered see's exactly what this is about... History is not only always written by the victors but it is also jealously guarding of any of it being lost that supports what HIS STORY is!!! It's fine to sit there and discuss it while it's present to assure you of its lies, but let that same History be taken else where and perhaps changed, challenged or lost and you've got to reinforce the HIS STORY all over again. There's more there as well but moving on... Another brief example of that is from Walking Across The Atlantic I wait for the holiday crowd to clear the beach before stepping onto the first wave (Later it ends) But for now I try to imagine what this must look like to the fish below the bottoms of my feet appearing, disappearing Not quite as rushed, and an avid reader as well as a sponge for knowledge I get this as well. However only someone who feels as if they know things others don't know on a large scale would understand the metaphors here. And that's not to insult anyone's intelligence but often those who know what the masses do not, don't want to be in the presence of those who couldn't "Get Them" anyway. God knows how many fish are in the ocean but the semblance there tells me something as well with the last line of feet appearing, and disappearing. To sum this up, great chess players think so many moves ahead that the person who is simply responding to the last move is in many ways, like a fish inquisitively looking at something it can't fully understand but is still seeing it, all the same. (I was that proverbial fish, the first time around and I am not ashamed to admit it)... When it comes to poetry, Billy Collins truly is a worthy Poet Laureate and if your rushed or not prepared to think truly deeply, your not going to enjoy his writings. If your not rushed and like your mind challenged and stimulated your going to love it! I highly recommend this book as well as "The Trouble With Poetry" and I look forward to more works from this master of the written word! With respects Sincerely, Chase Von


‘I want the scissors to be sharpand the table perfectly levelwhen you cut me out of my lifeand 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 ownand reached for a pen if only to showwe 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 worklittle puffs of smoke,indicators of progress,signs of industry and thought,the signal that told the nineteenth centuryit was moving forward.That was the best cigarette,when I would steam into the studyfull of vaporous hopeand stand there,the big headlamp of my facepointed 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 aheadof 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 hourbeyond the woes of the contemporary scene.No wonder such thoughtless pleasure derivesfrom 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 outsidewhen 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 travelerheading 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 compartmentand 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 itit becomes as eloquent as a bicycle leaningoutside a drugstore or a dog who sleeps all afternoonin 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 bootprintson 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 smokerising from your chimney, and when he standsbefore 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 onewho is lifted up by the ribs,then lowered into the dining room of a dollhouseto sit with the others at the long table.Very funny,but how would you like itif you never knew from one day to the nextif you were going to spend itstriding 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 5This 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.

Hansen Wendlandt

This collection is a great way to introduce someone to the greatest living poet. Metaphysical issues of meaning stand alongside the most mundane topics of sex, trains and blues music. The art of poetry lies on the same page as a simplicity of writing, story and imagery. Tennyson can write deeply and technical; Andrea Gibson's poetry can reach anyone viscerally. How does Collins do both simultaneously? Winter Syntax, an absurdly beautiful poem, tells the truth about language, that "there are easier ways of making sense, the connoisseurship of gesture, for example." (7) The Death of Allegory goes beyond the words to describe the power of concepts, relegating Truth and Chastity and Reason and the like to "a Florida for tropes." (27) Workshop, one of the more clever pieces of writing anyone will ever stumble upon, takes on the very structure of language and meaning. Marginalia is more about the process of reading than the process of creation, bringing a smile of familiarity to any careful reader.

Jacob Kaiser

I am normally not one to review poetry. I read it and I learn from it, both the good and the ugly. After reading this book, I was compelled to not only read, but explain what made it so absolutely great in my eyes. I have read a range of poets and I have grown tired at the "same ol', same ol'" approach. Granted, I am new to the world of poetry only having started writing and reading for only a couple years, but I have already seen modern poetry for what it is. In fact, I can almost categorize poets nowadays.You have the nature poets, the abstract/surrealists, the rest of them and then somewhere in between you find Billy Collins sitting in the bookshelf at your local Barnes and Noble. I have made it my own mission to read every poet from their poetry section and while I have read the classics, I get more enjoyment after reading something by Collins. It might be the little pocketfuls of change and light humor he carries in almost every poem, but the fact of the matter is that after reading this book one can understand why he was the U.S. Poet Laureate. He is a poet in the best manner.Now enough about my feelings on the poet, you can only measure a poet by his poems like you can measure a number by its distance from zero. Reading this book is like putting in a cassette tape and listening to the Eagles greatest hits album. It's light, it has an incredibly smooth appeal and it is easy for even amateur poets to read and enjoy. Most classic/formal poets are focused on structure, I know I was for the greatest time, but it was this book and Nine Horses that have taught me how important flow is to the poem. My own poetry teacher always preached music over structure. Even more important than flow, for Collins, is imagination and this collection of poetry is full of it. He has the wisdom of a prophet and the imagination of someone much younger than the buddha, but it all creates a style only he could recreate time and time again. That is not to say that I believe him to be a perfect poet, for no poet is. At times, I found myself skipping parts and at others wishing his poems had ended sooner. Some of his longer poems such as "Workshop" kept me awake by the clever humor. Most of his poems seemed to unravel like how I would unwrap one of my Christmas presents from under the giving tree. I fear it is most likely my ADD that made me grow impatient with him. Also, I grew very discouraged by this book multiple times when reading because I felt I could never write something as vivid and smooth as what he has. Once I put my negativity aside, I was really able to enjoy almost every poem and I have learned more from him than any teacher in middle school, high school or college.I would give this a 4.5/5, but they do not give me the option to. Collins' has written this book with a silent pen filled with a fluid ink of grace and light humor that would make even a professional ballet dancer weak in their knees. Thank you Billy Collins for already becoming my favorite poet.

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