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Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems Paperback – Unabridged, September 17, 2002
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—The New Yorker
“It is difficult not to be charmed by Collins, and that in itself is a remarkable literary accomplishment.”
—The New York Review of Books
“A brilliant comic sally...a wonderful, sly, and moving collection.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“[Collins] takes the mundane thing and shows you its mystery. And he takes the mysterious and strips it naked.”
—The Washington Post
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Now, that I have been trying to write poems, when I read his poems, I find myself wanting to mimic his writing style. One of the things I notice is that he doesn't hurry things, he doesn't summarize. I feel rushed in my writing, like I'm giving an acceptance speech at the Oscars and someone is standing off camera signaling me to wrap it up. Billy, though, for example, in "Fishing on the Susquehanna in July" takes 13 stanzas to describe how the closest he ever came to fishing on the Susquehanna was seeing a painting in a museum, in Philadelphia, of someone in a little boat fishing on the Susquehanna. These extra lines, though, give the poem its depth and reality and the well drawn images then stay with you.
Billy Collins then goes deeper and adds themes to his basic subject matter. If Norman Rockwell had painted like Billy writes the pictures would not only have been warm slices of Americana, they would have contained poignant bits of reality such as maybe a woman looking bored at Thanksgiving Dinner or quarreling with whomever was seated by her.
I like how he shares with us as if we were his close friends. For example, in "The Three Wishes" he goes through the first several stanzas showing how the foolish man and wife wasted the wishes they were granted. The man, hungry from work, wishes for sausages which angers his wife who then wishes the pan to stick to his nose. Collins discusses the moral of the story, the foolishness of the couple and what they could have had. Then, he ends, in an almost covert whisper by telling us that this story always makes him hungry for sausages.
And of course he makes it all look so easy. Another favorite of mine is "Dharma" about his dog who "If only she did not shove the cat aside/every morning/and eat all his food/what a model of self-containment she would be". His use of line breaks and enjambment set the pace and place emphasis where he wants it. His techniques are subtle such as his use of consonance in this poem with brown coat, blue collar, steady breathing. He uses assonance too in this poem, earthly, eager, ears.
It's neat that he became Poet Laureate, that he was recognized for what he offers. This collection of his is a great book, for yourself or as a gift for a dear friend.
Collins poetry is humorous, light, and insightful allowing an inexperienced reader to easily read through his poetry while also giving substance to the more devout poetry reader. He is able to gently guide the reader through a poem allowing the reader to smile, to get anxious, or to laugh without always having to look for a deeper meaning, as the surface of the poem is just as telling as the deeper meaning.
His modern language is relatable to everyone in the modern age giving a feeling of inclusiveness to his poetry. New readers will be able to laugh with Collins in his poem “Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House”, while more experienced readers will enjoy other poems such as the poem “Litany”.
Most of the poems within this collection have relatable content. There are multiple poems relating to school settings, and usually end up as parodies that give passing commentary as well as entertainment to this theme. If you are a history buff, then Billy Collins poems are for you as well, as many of his poems make comments on historical events. Overall, this collection has a variety of poems that allow almost all readers to connect with at least one poem.
Another advantage of reading Collins’ poetry is his use of imagery. The reader does not need to struggle to understand the content because of the simplicity of the language he uses, and the ability to create an image in the reader’s mind. Collins’ poetry is good at creating an image in the reader’s head through the words he chooses to use.
Billy Collins’ "Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems" will enhance your mind and life, while giving a new perspective on modern culture.
After reading his poems you may look at the moon differently, be more imaginative when looking at art in a gallery, shovel snow with more dedication or see catalogs and calendars in an entirely different light.
A lot of the new poems in this book are about Billy Collins' life. The poems included at the beginning of the book were poems I'd already read in books published in the past. I suppose I was wishing for all new poems but didn't seem to mind reading some poems I recognized from earlier books.
I did laugh again when I read "Nightclub" and thought "Insomnia" was very creative. I also liked the idea of books talking to each other in a library.
The truth is that Billy Collins' poems are accessible to the common reader and you don't need a degree to see the beauty of his work.
~The Rebecca Review
Top international reviews
You'd read Billy Collins for his at times quite unexpected imagery, not his language. Really it helps to think of these as prose poems, arbitrarily cut into lines -- I find them a bit unsatisfying, like poetry in translation.
A good introduction to this Post Laureate,it includes his wry observation on poetry critiques ',Intoduction to Poetry'.,which will ring bells to those like me,who were forced to study poetry purely with a view to passing exams.The only downside being the usual problem with modern poetry books,the lack of notes to aid the readers understanding of what are often eclectic themes.
I keep this near me at all times...just lying around on the table, sofa, bedroom...i pick it up and randomly read...my old favourites and new pieces in equal measure.
It's worth it for 'another reason i don't keep a gun in the house' alone.
One condition - I wouldn't recommend him for French readers whose English isn't fluent.......
私が気に入ったものを一つ紹介する。表題は、Another Reason Why I Don't Keep a Gun in the House