“The Trouble with Poetry”
I am ashamed to admit, that before taking my first Poetry class that I had never heard of the former U.S. Poet Laureate, Billy Collins. I am even more ashamed to say that it still took me quite awhile to read his work; however once I did I fell head over heels in love with his words. As soon as I began reading one of his more recent collections, The Trouble with Poetry, I was enthralled.
He begins his collection with a poem directed at the reader, opening with lines that may also challenge them. “I wonder how you are going to feel/ when you find out/ that I wrote this instead of you,/ that it was I who got up early/ to sit in the kitchen/ and mention with a pen/ the rain-soaked windows,/ the ivy wallpaper,/ and the goldfish circling in its bowl.”(Collins 3) It is a challenge met with curiosity as to what the book itself holds that the reader did not think up themselves.
Billy Collins was born in 1941 in New York City. He is the author of many books of poetry, including Ballistics, She Was Just Seventeen, The Trouble with Poetry, Nine Horses, Sailing alone Around the Room, Picnic, Lightning, and The Art of Drowning. He earned his Bachelor of the Arts degree from the College of the Holy Cross, and a Masters of the Arts degree and a PhD from the University of California-Riverside. He was also the United States Poet Laureate from 2001-2003, and the New York State Poet Laureate from 2004-2006. He has stated that his largest poetic influences are Samuel Coleridge, Thom Gunn, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, and Charles Tomlinson. (De Kamp)
In The Trouble with Poetry, Collins does an excellent job of surprising his readers with the ending of each poem. The poem seems to always start in one place only to startle us...