Friday, February 14, 2014

Aimless Love, Billy Collins

Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems


Billy Collins

Category: Poetry

Synopsis: New and selected poems by a former U.S. Poet Laureate.

Date finished: 27 January 2014

Rating: ****

You know how you sit down with a piece of chocolate cake, and after your first bite, you declare it the best thing you’ve ever tasted? So you eat a few more bites, and then a few more. And maybe you have a second slice. And then, suddenly, you just hit the wall? Too rich. Too overwhelmingly sweet. Too much.

Good poetry is like that. I hit overload and can’t process anymore. My sense-o-meter short-circuits.

Billy Collins is responsible for roughly 90% of my short-circuiting.

My goodness, this man can write poetry. His writing is so (seemingly) effortless, full of light and space. It’s focused; it doesn’t meander about like so many other poets (I shan’t name names). It’s deceptively simple. It’s infinitely quotable. It has a sense of humor. It’s playful. It’s generous. It’s never frivolous or morose or self-indulgent. This is poetry that holds its head up and doesn’t apologize for being poetry in a world of bad, bad prose.

But, there’s the chocolate cake syndrome. I really should learn to stop trying to polish off a whole book of poetry in a couple sittings.

Two excerpts to entice you:

from “Royal Aristocrat” (page 14):

Such deep silence on those nights—
just the sound of my typing
and a few stars singing a song their mother
sang when they were mere babies in the sky.


from “The Trouble with Poetry” (page 75):

How will it ever end? unless the day finally arrives
when we have compared everything in the world
to everything else in the world

Billy Collins is one of the only poet laureate choices I’ve ever approved of. Read this book!

Would you recommend this to a friend?
Yes, even a “poetry hater.”

You might also enjoy:
Stag’s Leap by Sharon Olds
Dog Songs by Mary Oliver
The Hungry Ear edited by Kevin Young
…and anything else by Billy Collins

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