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Nine Horses: Poems + Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems + The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (October 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375755209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375755200
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #339,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Nine Horses, Billy Collins, U.S. poet laureate and author of the bestselling collection Sailing Alone Around the Room, attempts to find beauty in simplicity, but ends up achieving the simply banal. Some poems, such as "Rooms" and "Obituaries," in which readers are given freedom to draw their own conclusions, are memorable, but the language in Nine Horses has little music and thoughts are plainly stated. Animals (mostly mice and little birds) populate this sentimental journey, and they are nearly always personified, resulting in poems that sometimes read like the verse equivalent of a Thomas Kinkade print. Collins's use of the vernacular can be burdensome ("and you are certainly not the pine-scented air. / There is no way you are the pine-scented air"), but some readers may find comfort (a haven perhaps) in the author's warm, safe world. Billy Collins has become an immensely popular poet, and though Nine Horses may remain less than inspiring, its poems are certain not to offend. --Michael Ferch --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Poet laureate Collins is a connoisseur of muted moments and a coiner of whimsical yet philosophical revelations. In the opening poem of his first all-new collection since Picnic, Lightning (1998), the insomniac poet rises and wanders outside where he is "simply conscious, / an animal in pajamas." Elsewhere he gazes "with affection" out a train window, or continues his "lifelong study / of the ceiling and its river-like crack." Collins loves to write about the stillness and meditative richness that is his home, but there are also many traveling poems here, wistful, blissful, and funny. Charm has always been essential to his work, and it now blossoms into sweet benevolence as readers board Collins' buoyant poems as though each were a small boat, carrying them gently into the dazzle of sun or the caress of soft rain. Calm water is, in fact, the book's ruling element as Collins watches a river from a bridge, or offers cascading gratitude for a genuine Turkish bath in clear, reflective, and serenely flowing praise songs. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Here is a collection of poetry that deserves to be read.
Timothy Haugh
I love Billy Collins for his paradox of simple poems that are complex in meaning (if you search for it).
Amy
Full of wit and humor along with very profound and meaningful poems.
Jan L. Nadeau

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Paul H. Rich on October 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you've read the one star review that talks about Billy Collins writing about nothing and how worthless that is, then you've gotten one point of view - allow me to offer another. Doing "nothing" can be the height of human existence, and "nothing" can also be a very subjective perspective. I don't see myself as doing "nothing" when I'm laying in the summer grass staring at the shapes of clouds. I don't know if it is an American or simply a modern trait to categorize a lack of physical action as "doing nothing" but it certainly isn't a viewpoint shared by everyone. I happen to think that poetry about an awareness of things going on around and inside of us that we are not normally aware of is beautiful, and is as worthy a subject for poetry as any. In "Nine Horses" words once again flow off pages and trickle into the recesses of my soul, filling pockets of emptiness that I hadn't been aware sat idle amongst the consciousness of their surroundings. Turning these pages is shocking, humorous, sad, enriching, challenging and altogether enjoyable. There is a simple appeal, but the words are not simple. This is a fine craftsman in his workshop, doing what he's driven to do, and we are all better for it.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Haugh TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
How bold it would be to be critical of a man who is Poet Laureate of the United States. Fortunately, I don't have a lot of criticisms to make. I have been a Collins fan for some time, having come across a poem of his in Poetry magazine and then reading his collection Questions About Angels. I've been reading his stuff ever since.
I've never read a poet who keeps me enthralled on every page and Collins is no exception; however, there is a lot of good stuff here. "Night Letter to the Reader," "The Country," "Velocity," "Istanbul," "Love," "Creatures," "Birthday," "Albany," "Litany," "Bermuda" and "The Only Day in Existence" are among my favorites.
I particularly like a poem called "Tipping Point" where Collins brings out the arbitrariness of measuring time and the subtlety of our sensations of time: "...the sensation you might feel/as you passed through the moment//at the exact center of your life/or as you crossed the equator at night in a boat." Would we want to be able to sense the midpoint of our lives? Could we? Any more than we could sense passing over the equator?--another arbitrary way to measure our world. And yet, we do sense things deeply, if only in the deep dark night or while walking in the rain.
But Collins never dips to far into pretentiousness. In fact, in "Study in Orange and White" he illuminates the pretentiousness of titles. How many of us know that the painting generally referred to as "Whistler's mother" is in fact entitled "Arrangement in Gray and Black"?
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jan L. Nadeau on September 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I don't know where I have been, but I just discovered Billy Collins a couple of weeks ago when he appeared in person for a poetry reading in Traverse City, Michigan. Wow! I bought Nine Horses and The Art of Drowning that night. Nine Horses is a wonderful book. Full of wit and humor along with very profound and meaningful poems. Most are short and the entire book can be read in no time at all. It was awesome seeing him in person, and I am glad I heard him read because I can now picture him and hear his voice when I read the poems. Nine Horses left me with a desire to read everything he has ever written - and I intend to do just that! His poems are fun, and some have an element of surprise at the end. Many are just the kind of thoughts that anyone might have on a lazy, summer afternoon while staring up at the clouds. Get this book. Read his poems, you will definitely not be disappointed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
In Sailing Alone Around the Room, Billy Collins gathered some of his most breath-taking pieces, some new ones and many drawn from his previous works like Scotland, Not Touching, and I Chop Some Parsley...I am sure his readers, who were enamored with his engaging and unpretentious style wished that Nine Horses would serve a similar dish or even better, but it does not. Simplicity was beauty in Sailing, but Nine Horses is too plain. How I wish Collins would write more poems similar to Duck/Rabbit and Not Touching.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By David Walske on September 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Last night I received Billy Collins' new book of poems, "Nine Horses" and inhaled it in a single sitting. I then sat down and read it through a second time. This morning I am skipping through its pages, reliving favorite moments as if it were my own well-lived life. I am madly, impetuously, and hopelessly in love with this book. I wish that I was a droplet of water and that this book were a sponge.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "lawyerpoet" on March 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Rather than reciting the names of poets who Billy Collins *isn't*, I'll simply say who Billy Collins *is* (in addition to being the U.S. Poet Laureate, and with good cause). Billy Collins is the first poet in a long time to have a huge readership, both among those who were admittedly NOT fans of poetry, and among those who are conoisseurs of poetry. Billy Collins is, then, the envy of poets who wish for high exposure, a large readership, and huge book sales. These things don't happen to just any poet. Collins is not just any poet. He's Billy Collins, in a category all his own.
Collins's poems are fresh and inventive and at the same time take for their subject matter the everyday things we take for granted. He takes the most simple things and turns and turns them in a poem until we see them in a way we never could have without the intervention of his brilliant mind. He processes fresh, raw words and injects wit and feeling and makes of them a very fine wine.
NINE HORSES is just as good a work as SAILING ALONE AROUND THE ROOM, which contains works from his previous books. Collins is at the top of his form, and without giving a play-by-play of some of the highlights of the book, I will just say that "Litany" alone is worth the cover price.
Collins's intellect is richly sophisticated yet he talks like the neighbor next door. And, passing the test of true intelligence, he is able to explain lofty concepts so that even the simplest of minds can understand. Though, of course, he enraptures high-minded folks in the process.
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