After sampling a few Billy Collins poems I got a very high hit rate by his collection of greatest hits from previous collections: Sailing Alone Around the Room. Many of them read more like short shorts, but the insights at the end are often unexpected and the language of metaphor very poetic. And they’re funny.
Poems I enjoyed reading again include “Nightclub” and “Dharma.” I also like “Picnic, Lightning” in which a gardener contemplating sudden unheralded death suddenly finds the garden full of vivid life. “Marginalia” is an amusing catalog of the kinds of notes people make, which reminds me an Eileen Gunn story about marginalia.
But other than saying they made me laugh or smile, I don’t think I should say too much. After all, early on “Introduction to Poetry” shows what students can do to poetry:
all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
I take that as a warning not to work too hard. Still, I do think I have learned something. “Lines Lost Among Trees” is a poem written in memory of a poem forgotten, including “the little insight at the end / wagging like the short tail / of a perfectly obedient spaniel / sitting by the door.” I knew the insight at the end was important!
Poetry I can relate to. Cool.