Questions about angels : poems

by Billy Collins

Paper Book, 1999





Pittsburgh : University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999.


Billy Collins -- winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, veteran of a one-hour Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross, and a guest on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion -- arrives at Random House with the poetic equivalent of a Greatest Hits album, seasoned with some wonderful new numbers. Ranging from a lament over "Forgetfulness"--"Whatever it is you are struggling to remember/it is not poised on the tip of your tongue, /not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen" -- to a love poem that starts with weighing a dog, to a definitive "Life of Riley" ("He never had a job, a family or a sore throat"), Billy Collins' poems often seem modest and homespun, until the reader finds himself suddenly dissolving into laughter or tears. As for his popularity, a recent piece in Publishers Weekly, which ran before his three-book deal with Random House was made public, will perhaps be more convincing than any editor trying to flog a book in a fact sheet could be: "In February alone, three of Collins' collections sold nearly 8000 copies ... Fresh Air/Terry Gross recently rebroadcast an hour-long interview with Collins; the following day Picnic, Lightning briefly hit #59 in's bestseller rankings." Billy Collins is a dynamic and popular reader. He makes between thirty and forty appearances a year. His arrival at a prominent trade publishing house will ensure an even wider audience for his poetry and will capitalize on his increasing popularity. Household name may not be too much to ask for.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member -Cee-
Billy Collins is one of my favorite poets. This collection is varied... thoughtful, whimsical, sad, and fun.

A lot of his poetry is easy to read and relate to...
How many will recognize this feeling somewhere between waking and sleeping?
exerpt from "Reading Myself to Sleep":

"Is there a more gentle way o go into the night
than to follow an endless rope of sentences
and then to slip drowsily under the surface of a page

into the first tenative flicker of a dream,
passing out of the bright precincts of attention
like cigarette smoke passing through a window screen?

All late readers know this sinking feeling of falling
into the liquid of sleep and then rising again
to the call of a voice that you are holding in your hands

as if pulled from the sea back into a boat...."

… (more)
LibraryThing member jasonli
A solid collection of poetry from Billy Collins.


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