All About Books: Poetry Edition

If you haven't yet read any Billy Collins, or listened to his readings, you need to put his poetry books on your list. He's brilliant and funny, and the every person's poet, who puts into verse mice in the walls in a country house, sitting at a kitchen table staring out a window, having a cup of coffee, ready the newspaper, and other every day things people can easily relate to.

This post related to his latest book published some time last year, and that I discovered in the library last month.

This post is a part of the Book Beginnings and Friday 56 blog memes. Visit more of my All About Books posts.


Whale Day and Other Poems by Billy Collins

Book Beginnings:

The Function of Poetry

I woke up early on a Tuesday,
made a pot of coffee for myself,
then drove down to the village,
stopping at the post office
then the bank where I cashed a check
from a magazine, and when I got home
I read some of the newspaper
starting with the science section
and had another cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal.

Pretty soon, it was lunchtime.
I wasn't at all hungry
but I paused for a moment
to look out the big kitchen window,
and that's when I realized
that the function of poetry is to remind me
that there is much more to life
than what I am usually doing
when I'm not ready or writing poetry.

Friday 56:

Safe Travels

Every time Gulliver travels
into another chapter of Gulliver's Travels
I marvel at how well traveled he is
despite his incurable gullibility.

I don't enjoy traveling anymore
because, for instance,
I still don't know the difference
between a bloke and a chap.

And I'm embarrassed
whenever I have to hold out a palm
of loose coins to a cashier
as if I were feeding a pigeon in a park.

Like Proust, I see only trouble
in store if I leave my room,
which is not lined with cork,
only sheets of wallpaper

featuring orange flowers
and little green vines.
Of course, anytime I want
I can travel in my imagination

but only as far as Toronto,
where some graduate students
with goatees and snoods
are translating my poems in Canadian.