Horoscopes for the dead Poems

Billy Collins

Book - 2011

Saved in:

2nd Floor Show me where

1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 811.54/Collins Checked In
New York : Random House c2011.
1st ed
Item Description
United States poet laureate, 2001-2003.
Physical Description
xiii, 106 p. ; 22 cm
Main Author
Billy Collins (-)
Review by Booklist Review

Collins writes of time and death with humor and whirligig images and wordplay so unexpected and delectable, reading his poetry is like watching a magician transform ordinary objects a coin, a card into something breathtaking out of thin air. Collins likes to focus on small, unobtrusive beings like a mouse or a squirrel and informs us that he is the tortoise, not the hare. He steals an hour to walk up a hill and sit on a rock the size of a car, which he then imagines once moved along / in the monstrous glacial traffic of the ice age. The poet loves his dog's long smile, and thinks of Dante in a cavernous mattress store. In this piquant collection's hilarious and sweet title poem, Collins riffs on newspaper horoscopes and bemused memories of his beloved dead. A hangover inspires misanthropy, while everyday heartbreaks lead to droll confessions. Including thoughts on his true vocation, which is keeping an eye on things / whether they existed or not, / recumbent under the random stars. Collins rules as a charming master of mischievous wisdom.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

The 1990s belonged to Billy Collins in the same way that the 1980s belonged to Robert Fulghum (All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten). Collins's gently ironic, gently elegiac work-the mirror image of, say, Jonathan Franzen's suburban delvings-has slowly constructed a pitch-perfect purgatory, and this death-themed ninth collection seems to want to make it as literal as possible: it opens as the speaker stands "before the joined grave of my parents" and asks, "What do you think of my new glasses?" In a poem titled "Hell," the speaker has "a feeling that is much worse/ than shopping for a mattress in a mall,// of greater duration without question,/ and there is no random pitchforking here,/ no licking flames to fear,/ only this cavernous store with its maze of bedding." That this feeling is never quite articulated over the course of 50-odd poems is not to its detriment: despite the prosaic settings and everyday language, Collins is after the big questions: of life, death, and how to live. But the world is not of his making, and his is a temperament oddly suited to a world where "the correct answer" to questions like why the stars appear as they do, strike "not like a bolt of lightning/ but more like a heavy bolt of cloth." (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Library Journal Review

In his ninth book of poems (after Ballistics), Collins recalls a boyhood passion for collecting: "lantern, spyglass, tomahawk...in the order you would need them in," a sweet beginning with ominous implications. And there is a sharp edge to his fabrications in this volume, which begins with a verbal prank at his parents' grave, ends with the last poem he will ever write, and includes a catalog of his unborn children. His Florida is not Paris; his friend does not have cancer, nor is she human; and the dead don't do anything that appears here in their absurd, generic horoscopes (nor would they have even when alive). In the empty lawn chairs, "no one is resting a glass or placing a book facedown," and the most delightful companions are the cemetery dead. As if feeling naughty, the poet lounges poolside and regards a floating rubber version of himself: "a cool ducky, nonchalant/ little dude on permanent vacation." Ultimately, these absorbing games can't deny the fundamental calamity: grief seeps between the cracks. VERDICT Witty bleakness from a former poet laureate and one of the country's most popular poets.--Ellen Kaufman, Baruch Coll., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.