41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems (Hardcover)
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To me, a Billy Collins poem is like a box of Cracker Jacks: each has a familiar, "comfort food" flavor, but each also contains a little surprise by the end. I can't resist their ironic humor and plain-spoken style, and often they take me somewhere I didn't expect to land. This collection contains selections from his last four volumes of poetry, starting with Nine Horses, as well as 83 pages of new poems. Some believe that he "jumped the shark" with Nine Horses, but there are still some favorites to be found in these newer collected poems, like "Litany" and "The Lanyard". The brand-new poems have some gems as well, like the hilarious "Lesson for the Day" (in which he imagines Marianne Moore being run over by a steamroller!), "Here and There", and the moving 9/11 tribute "The Names". Collins is a still a master of the ars poetica, as evidenced by poems like "Drinking Alone" (the epigraph "after Li Po" is in itself enough to elicit a chuckle from any experienced poet); "Irish Poetry", and "The Suggestion Box". Collins has acquired a bad rap for being too "popular" and "accessible" over the years, but he deserves credit for his visibility, his entertaining "stand-up" reading style, and his projects like "Poetry 180", all of which have helped make poetry enjoyable again for the average American. And I, for one, don't mind reading a poet who doesn't make me work too hard, yet presents me with often unexpected, even profound, rewards.