After You've Read Everything an Author's Written

What do you do when you've read all an author has published? Other than wait for the next surely great thing, you can re-read books you've already spent time with, or you can look for other projects in which that writer was involved.

That's how I ended up reading Poetry 180 and 180 More, collections of poems selected by Billy Collins, the first created while he was poet laureate of the United States. 

From Amazon: "Inspired by Billy Collins’s poem-a-day program for American high schools that he began through the Library of Congress, the original Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry was a gathering of clear, contemporary poems aimed at a wide audience. In 180 More, Collins continues his ambitious mission of exposing readers of all ages to the best of today’s poetry."

Poetry 180

Book Beginnings: A few years ago I found myself on a circuit of readings, traveling around the Midwest from podium to podium. One stop was at an enormous high school south of Chicago. Despite its daunting size -- picture a row of lockers receding into infinity -- the school holds a "Poetry Day" every year featuring an exuberant range of activities, including poems set to music by students and performed by the high school chorus  and a ninety piece orchestra.

Friday 56:

The Book of Hand Shadows by Marianne Boruch

An eagle and a squirrel. A bull and s sage.
All take two hands, event the sheep
whose mouth is a lever for nothing, neither
grass nor complaint. The black swan's
mostly one long arm, bent
at the elbow but there's always feathers
to fool with. Front leaf: a boy
with a candle, leaning curious while
an old man makes
a Shakespeare. The small pointed beard
is a giveaway.

                       I always wanted to, especially
because of the candle part. How the eye is finally
a finger bent to make an emptiness. Or that
a thing thrown up there
is worlds bigger than how it starts. So I liked
the ceiling better than the wall, looking up
where stars roamed and moon sometimes
hovered, were the roof lost,
were we lucky
and forgot ourselves.

180 More

Book Beginnings: Poetry, America's longest running poetry magazine, recently staged in its pages a debate between the poets Dana Gioia and August Kleinzahler. The subject on the table was an anthology call Good Poems, edited by Garrison Keillor. The opinions of the principals were so predictable extreme-- Gioia thumbs up. Kleinzahler thumbs low down -- the match could have been arranged by the World Wrestling Federation: Mister Necktie vs. The Shin-Kicker.

Friday 56:

Please Come Late by Hugo Williams

Please come late,
so that I have almost given you up
and have started glancing around the room,
thinking everyone is you.
Please don't come
until I have started missing you,
thinking I will never see you again,
praying you are lost.
Come too late for me not to notice.
Make me suffer,
wondering what you are doing
on the other side of town,
still in your dressing gown,
make me beg for mercy
when you pick up a magazine.

Are you looking in you r mirror,
suddenly remembering me?
I'm on my second coffee by now,
eating the little bits of sugar in my cup.
Haven't you even set out yet?
I decide I don't want to see you after all.
I don't really like you.
I'd rather be on my own.
I know it is all over between us,
but I go on sitting here,
reading the newspaper,
Not understanding a word.
If you cam now, I wouldn't recognize you.
Don't come anywhere near me
until I have gone slightly mad for love of you.

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