Horoscopes for the Dead
By Billy Collins
(Random House, Hardcover, 9781400064922, 128pp.)
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
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WINNER—BEST POETRY—GOODREADS CHOICE AWARDS
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
NEWSWEEK/THE DAILY BEAST
Billy Collins is widely acknowledged as a prominent player at the table of modern American poetry. And in this new collection, Horoscopes for the Dead, the verbal gifts that earned him the title “America’s most popular poet” are on full display. The poems here cover the usual but everlasting themes of love and loss, life and death, youth and aging, solitude and union. With simple diction and effortless turns of phrase, Collins is at once ironic and elegiac, as in the opening lines of the title poem:
Every morning since you disappeared for good,
I read about you in the newspaper
along with the box scores, the weather, and all the bad news.
Some days I am reminded that today
will not be a wildly romantic time for you . . .
And in this reflection on his own transience:
It doesn’t take much to remind me
what a mayfly I am,
what a soap bubble floating over the children’s party.
Standing under the bones of a dinosaur
in a museum does the trick every time
or confronting in a vitrine a rock from the moon.
Smart, lyrical, and not afraid to be funny, these new poems extend Collins’s reputation as a poet who occupies a special place in the consciousness of readers of poetry, including the many he has converted to the genre.
Billy Collins is the author of nine collections of poetry, including Ballistics, The Trouble with Poetry, 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, and a distinguished fellow of the Winter Park Institute of Rollins College, he was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003 and Poet Laureate of New York State from 2004 to 2006.
Billy Collins, former U.S. poet laureate, thinks too many poets show off â?? writing obscure verses that turn many readers off. In his latest collection, Horoscopes For The Dead, Collins strives to write poetry that all readers can appreciate. More at NPR.org
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Praise for Billy Collins
“Collins reveals the unexpected within the ordinary. He peels back the surface of the humdrum to make the moment new.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“The most companionable of poetic companions.”—The New York Times
“Billy Collins demonstrates why he is one of our best poets, with his appealing trademark style: a self-deprecating charm, playful wit and unexpected imaginative leaps.”—San Antonio Express-News
“By careful observation, Collins spins comic gold from the dross of quotidian suburban life. . . . Chipping away at the surface, he surprises you by scraping to the wood underneath, to some deeper truth.”—Entertainment Weekly
“A poet of plentitude, irony, and Augustan grace.”—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