Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems

Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems

by Billy Collins


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812982671
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/21/2014
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 187,183
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Billy Collins is the author of ten collections of poetry, including Aimless Love, Horoscopes for the Dead, Ballistics, The Trouble with Poetry, Nine Horses, Sailing Alone Around the Room, Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, and Picnic, Lightning. He is also the editor of Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry, 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, and Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds. A Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York, and Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Winter Park Institute of Rollins College, he was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003 and Poet Laureate of New York State from 2004 to 2006.


Somers, New York

Date of Birth:

March 22, 1941

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


B.A., Holy Cross College, 1963; Ph.D. in Romantic poetry, University of California at Riverside, 1971

Read an Excerpt


From the Hardcover edition.

Reading Group Guide

1. Billy Collins has said, “In a poem you have the greatest imaginative freedom possible in language. You have no allegiance to plot, consistency, plausibility, character development, chronology.” Do you agree or disagree? How do you find yourself reading a book of poetry differently than you do a novel? Did you find yourself creating narrative connections between poems in Aimless Love?

2. What patterns can you identify in Collins’s writing? Are there images, subjects, or themes that you see him returning to again and again? What specific images stood out for you?

3. Collins skillfully moves between many emotional tones in his work, from light-hearted to somber, from ironic to sincere, from astonishment and wonder to remorse and grief. How does he achieve such scope in just a few lines? Find your favorite examples of poems with a range of tones.

4. When reading poetry, do you assume it is the writer speaking? Who else might it be? Discuss the role of autobiography in poetry.

5. Collins has said that in his poems he is “speaking to someone I’m trying to get to fall in love with me.” How does Collins get this idea across on the page?

6. Read “Litany.” Now read “Litany” out loud. Now listen to Collins read “Litany”: ( Finally, watch three-year-old Samuel recite “Litany”: ( What did you hear differently? Did your own interpretation of the poem change?

7. Collins has been called “America’s favorite poet.” What do you think defines popularity in poetry? Do you perceive reading poetry as hard work? Did Aimless Love change that perception?

8. Robert Frost said, “A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.” Collins hopes that his poems “begin in Kansas and end in Oz.” What do you think each poet means? Do the two statements contradict each other?

9. Collins employs epigraphs of all kinds, including a reference from The Notebooks of Robert Frost in “The Four-Moon Planet” and a line from an article on printing in “Flock.” Did the epigraphs change your reading experience? How? In what other ways does Collins engage with poetry and other literature in his work?

10. Collins wrote his September 11–themed poem, “The Names,” when he was U.S. Poet Laureate of the United States. Do you think poetry as commemoration still serves an important role in society today?

11. Look at the Acknowledgments. Have you read any of those publications? How do you interact with poetry in your everyday life?

12. We speak of the gift of poetry. What does that mean to you? Identify three people in your life and choose a poem from Aimless Love that you would like to share with them.

Customer Reviews

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Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you've never read Billy Collins, definitely purchase this anthology. It contains his best work from the past and new poems as well. No other American poet so effectively mixes humor with insight in recording the small but intensely meaningful moments of life. Unlike other poets, he is neither pompous nor full of himself. This anthology is a great investment. For the cost of one book, you get the best of five of his previous chapbooks. I don't understand the previous negative review--"sits down and does nothing." The entire point of Collins' work is to find meaning in "nothing" or rather the simple occasions that often go unnoticed. And if you are over 50, watch the YouTube video as Collins reads the poem entitled "Forgetfulness."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
susieq1 More than 1 year ago
Aimless Love Poetry book by Billy Collins is wonderful, just like all of the other poetry books by him. I always keep one of his books in the car with me in case I happen to get a chance to read, like waiting at doctor visits, stuck in traffic, etc. I try to purchase each one as they are published, or ask for them for birthdays, Christmas, Mother's Day, etc. They are very enjoyable!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Each page tickles your brain, love them all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read a poem every night. Delightful.
queen_crab More than 1 year ago
I love this most accessible of poets. But pray tell, why is this book $2 less for Kindle than for Nook?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago