The Trouble with Poetry
And Other Poems
By Billy Collins
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780375755217, 112pp.)
Publication Date: March 13, 2007
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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Playfulness, spare elegance, and wit epitomize the poetry of Billy Collins. With his distinct voice and accessible language, America’s two-term Poet Laureate has opened the door to poetry for countless people for whom it might otherwise remain closed.
Like the present book’s title, Collins’s poems are filled with mischief, humor, and irony, “Poetry speaks to all people, it is said, but here I would like to address / only those in my own time zone”–but also with quiet observation, intense wonder, and a reverence for the everyday: “The birds are in their trees, / the toast is in the toaster, / and the poets are at their windows. / They are at their windows in every section of the tangerine of earth–the Chinese poets looking up at the moon, / the American poets gazing out / at the pink and blue ribbons of sunrise.”
Through simple language, Collins shows that good poetry doesn’t have to be obscure or incomprehensible, qualities that are perhaps the real trouble with most “serious” poetry: “By now, it should go without saying / that what the oven is to the baker / and the berry-stained blouse to the drycleaner / so the window is to the poet.”
In this dazzling new collection, his first in three years, Collins explores boyhood, jazz, love, the passage of time, and, of course, writing–themes familiar to Collins’s fans but made new here. Gorgeous, funny, and deeply empathetic, Billy Collins’s poetry is a window through which we see our lives as if for the first time.
Billy Collins is the author of seven collections of poetry, including Nine Horses, Sailing Alone Around the Room, Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, and Picnic, Lightning. He is also the editor of Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry and 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day. A distinguished professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York, he was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. He currently serves as the Poet Laureate of New York State.
Praise for Billy Collins
“Using simple, understandable language, Collins captures ordinary life–its pleasure, its discontents, its moments of sadness and of joy.”
“At once accessible and profound, [Collins’s] work makes him a natural people’s poet.”
“A poet of plenitude, irony, and Augustan grace.”
–The New Yorker
“A sort of poet not seen since Robert Frost.”
–The Boston Globe
“Collins reveals the unexpected within the ordinary. He peels back the surface of the humdrum to make the moment new.”
–The Christian Science Monitor
“It is difficult not to be charmed by Collins, and that in itself is a remarkable literary accomplishment.”
–The New York Review of Books