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Customer Review

on October 1, 2001
I'm one of those readers who finds most poetry to be maddenly opaque, filled with mostly ambiguous and meaningless words. Dante's Inferno is a masterpiece, but he gave us something to sink our teeth into. Some of Robert Frost's poems are wonderful. But most poetry leaves me frustrated and unfulfilled. I don't blame the poets or the poems--they just don't do it for me. Give me some good, meaty prose, something with a real plot and strong sinewy words to chew on, and I'm a happy reader.
Then someone suggested I give Billy Collins a try, so I invested $20+ on his recent collection entitled "Sailing Around the Room." (mostly poems from his prior collections, but with twenty or so new ones).
What can I say? In the two days since I bought this volume, I've read each of the poems several times. Collins is humorous, insightful, and even his ambiguities are delicious. But beneath the humor lies some deep insights into humanity, a sense of sadness amid our passage through life (the last lines in "November" are heartbreaking). Many of his poems are wry commentaries on the creative process.
If you've ever owned a dog, his "Dharma" is a revelation, you'll gain a new appreciation for snow from reading "Snow" or "Snow Day," you'll never look at someone listening to a disc player the same way after you've read "Man Listening to Disc," and you'll never pick up a Victoria's Secret catalog again without examining it through the humorous eyes of "Victoria's Secret."
I loved this volume and I'll read it over and over. It's everything I have described above, but above all things, it's wise. Collins has enough of life under his belt to understand its humor, its tragedy, its joy, and its rhythms. And he has the voice to make it all real for the reader.
Even if you hate poetry, buy this book.
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