Picnic, lightning

by Billy Collins

Hardcover, 1998





Pittsburgh, Pa. : University of Pittsburgh Press, c1998.


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."… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member foggidawn
I find poetry contagious,
like a yawn. Too much of it
and my thoughts break apart
into line and stanza,
metaphor dribbling out,
sticky sweet.

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
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too much Billy Collins
in one evening.

Trying to describe his work, I grasp
at elegant turns of phrase, like
inspired accessibility or
mundane transcendence.
I'll have to read some more of this, I think.
But not, perhaps, right away.
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LibraryThing member omame
this is the first time i've read billy collins and i found myself totally charmed by him. he is funny, thoughtful, sad, insightful, smooth all at the same time. the imagery is spot on, almost always. especially liked the poem "marginalia."
LibraryThing member whitewavedarling
While many of these poems are worth reading, others feel more like the author thinking "what if" and writing a poem based on that supposition alone--this wouldn't be a problem, except in that sometimes that "what if I wrote a poem about..." thought is the most interesting (or only interesting) part
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of the poem. I've read Collins' work before, and really enjoyed it, but these just didn't live up to the other works I'd read from Collins. In general, they were often forgettable, and none were poems that I'd be driven to reread or bring into a classroom, which I've done with some of his other work. I'd recommend this book to fans of Collins, but if you're someone looking for a new poet to explore, I'd go with one of his earlier collections instead. These were rather simple for my taste, with too much allusion as the backbone of poems, and not enough language or thought-play.
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LibraryThing member realbigcat
Picnic, Lighting by Billy Collins is a wonderful book of poetry. Collins writes from the heart in a beautiful way about the things we see and do everyday but don't know how to put into words. He does that for us. You don't need a PHD to interpret his work. It's easy to read but short and I was
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finished reading it way to soon.
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LibraryThing member mcschlosser
I love Billy Collins and Picnic, Lightening does not disappoint. His poetry always leaves me feeling like I've been visiting with my grandfather. My favorite from this collection is - This Much I Do Remember. It put me in mind of Monet racing against the sun to capture a single, simple moment in
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time, a moment seemingly unimportant, yet forever fixed in your minds eye or, in Monet's case, an the canvas.
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LibraryThing member rmariem
Reasons other people might love this book:

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.)

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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.
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