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Sailing Alone Around the Room

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Do you avoid poetry because it is something you were always told to decode? If so, you may be one of many who’ve contracted FOP (fear of poetry). In his poem, Introduction to Poetry, Collins sums up written verse as many of us are taught to approach it: …all they want to do/is tie the poem to a chair with rope/and torture a confession out of it. Dare we let ourselves imagine what would happen if we stopped interrogating?

Whether you’re looking to read a new poet, or to move past your estranged relationship with the genre, Billy Collins is a writer you can turn to. Get to know his voice in Sailing Alone Around the Room, a book that features selections from four of his earlier books, plus newer poems. This diverse collection shows us what poetry does best: stopping readers long enough to admire (or poke fun at) the stuff life is made of.

Billy Collins, 2001 U.S. Poet Laureate, is noted for his efforts to restore poetry to a modern audience. He piloted “Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools.” The program calls for one poem to be read during daily announcements. It’s simply an opportunity to enjoy listening to language with no literary questions attached.

Collins has a knack for re-introducing familiar subjects with fresh language and a dash of humor. Meet History, described as a man with an unexpected temper in The Lesson. Take a walk with March and greet the red polka-dot umbrella of April in Pinup. And what about Dawn whose majestic beauty inspires countless odes? Collins will challenge you to take Dawn off her pedestal and appreciate her in more realistic light: in Tuesday, June 4, 1991, Dawn is barefoot and disheveled, standing outside my window…offering a handful of birdsong and a small cup of light.

Leave the rope and chair behind and invite these poems to sit with you on a couch. They’ll open up about Irish cows, insomnia, and how to read the facial expressions of lingerie models as you flip through a Victoria’s Secret catalog. Instead of straining to read between the lines, you’ll gain access to the world as you’ve never known it.


2 Responses

  1. For someone who is not poem-savvy except for ones I had to memorize years ago, Collins is refreshing. This new book of his sounds great. 

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