From the two-term Poet Laureate of the United States Billy Collins comes his first compilation of new and selected poems in twelve years. Aimless Love combines more than fifty new poems with selections from four previous books—Nine Horses, The Trouble with Poetry, Ballistics, and Horoscopes for the Dead. Collins’s unmistakable voice, which brings together plain speech with imaginative surprise, is clearly heard on every page, reminding us how he has managed to enrich the tapestry of contemporary poetry and greatly expand its audience. His work is featured in top literary magazines such as The New Yorker, Poetry, and The Atlantic, and he is a strong draw at reading venues across the country. Appearing regularly in The Best American Poetry series, his poems appeal to readers and live audiences far and wide and have been translated into more than a dozen languages. By turns playful, ironic, and serious, Collins’s poetry captures the nuances of everyday life while leading the reader into zones of inspired wonder. In the poet’s own words, he hopes that his poems “begin in Kansas and end in Oz.” Touching on the themes of love, loss, joy, and poetry itself, these poems showcase the best work of this “poet of plenitude, irony, and Augustan grace” (The New Yorker).
Go, little book,
out of this house and into the world,
carriage made of paper rolling toward town bearing a single passenger beyond the reach of this jittery pen and far from the desk and the nosy gooseneck lamp.
It is time to decamp,
put on a jacket and venture outside,
time to be regarded by other eyes,
bound to be held in foreign hands.
So off you go, infants of the brain,
with a wave and some bits of fatherly advice:
stay out as late as you like,
don’t bother to call or write,
and talk to as many strangers as you can.
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Hometown:Somers, New York
Date of Birth:March 22, 1941
Place of Birth:New York, New York
Education: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”: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56Iq3PbSWZY). Finally, watch three-year-old Samuel recite “Litany”: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVu4Me_n91Y). 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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."
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!
Each page tickles your brain, love them all.
I read a poem every night. Delightful.
I love this most accessible of poets. But pray tell, why is this book $2 less for Kindle than for Nook?