Winner of the 1999 Paterson Poetry Prize Over the past decade, Billy Collins has emerged as the most beloved American poet since Robert Frost, garnering critical acclaim and broad popular appeal. Annie Proulx admits, "I have never before felt possessive about a poet, but I am fiercely glad that Billy Collins is ours." John Updike proclaims his poems "consistently startling, more serious than they seem, they describe all the worlds that are and were and some others besides." This special, limited edition celebrates Billy Collins's years as U.S. Poet Laureate. Picnic, Lightning--one of the books that helped establish and secure his reputation and popularity during the 1990s--combines humor and seriousness, wit and sublimity. His poems touch on a wide range of subjects, from jazz to death, from weather to sex, but share common ground where the mind and heart can meet. Whether reading him for the first time or the fiftieth, this collector's edition is a must-have for anyone interested in the poet the New York Times calls simply "the real thing."
like a yawn. Too much of it
and my thoughts break apart
into line and stanza,
metaphor dribbling out,
Old envelopes and backs of shopping lists
blank canvases for scrawled verse
until I find myself in the canned soup aisle
musing on a thought inspired by April rain
and too much Billy Collins
in one evening.
Trying to describe his work, I grasp
at elegant turns of phrase, like
inspired accessibility or
I'll have to read some more of this, I think.
But not, perhaps, right away.
1. Easy to recommend, especially to people who don’t read a lot of poetry. I plan on giving my copy to my mom. It’s easy to read, easy to follow, and easy to put down at night. No emotional bombs and no c-words (I’m looking at you, Carolyn Forche.)
2. Billy Collins writes the most thematically vanilla poetry imaginable, which is a huge part of his appeal: “Oh, this is a poem about eating breakfast? I eat breakfast! This is so great.”
3. He’s a really good writer, and some of these poems are really good.
& Reasons I didn’t love this book:
1. Reasons #1 & 2 from above. I’m not one of those people with a snooty aversion to popular poets, but BC just takes accessibility and niceness to a level I find really boring. I read these poems in the middle of the night, at the point where my brain was already half asleep and I wasn’t committing myself 100% to anything but breathing, and this book felt right at my level. That says something, I think…
2. The format is really sucky. For too many of the poems, a page break comes at a point where the last line on one page feels like a good conclusion, then you turn the page and surprise! There’s another 3 stanzas to go. Distracting, and doesn’t do much for the integrity of the poems.
3. There are some really good poems in this book, MAYBE one or two great ones… but the good stuff to filler ratio seems skewed to the negative. Much of this impression comes down to personal preference, but so it goes.