Questions About Angels

Billy Collins

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Questions About Angels

Questions About Angels Billy Collins can pack the house Funny and laid back his clear often brief poems are easy to understand and enjoy which is why his readings are sometimes standing room only affairs Collins may be a

  • Title: Questions About Angels
  • Author: Billy Collins
  • ISBN: 9780822942115
  • Page: 121
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Billy Collins can pack the house Funny and laid back, his clear, often brief poems are easy to understand and enjoy which is why his readings are sometimes standing room only affairs Collins may be a college professor and NEA grant recipient, but he s not above using a disinfectant ad as an epigraph Public restrooms give me the willies, reads the epigraph to a poemBilly Collins can pack the house Funny and laid back, his clear, often brief poems are easy to understand and enjoy which is why his readings are sometimes standing room only affairs Collins may be a college professor and NEA grant recipient, but he s not above using a disinfectant ad as an epigraph Public restrooms give me the willies, reads the epigraph to a poem appropriately titled The Willies That man on the street brand of humor, utterly stripped of academic pretense, is trademark Collins QUESTIONS ABOUT ANGELS, a reissue of Collins s fourth volume of poems, offers 70 pages of well formed, very American verse that not surprisingly doesn t require a shelf of dictionaries In fact, just as he laughs at epigraphs, Collins gleefully pokes fun at the very concept of dictionaries Here, for example, are the opening lines to The Hunt, which initially offer the flowing, dreamy verse many expect from a poet Somewhere in the rolling hills and farm country that lie beyond speech Noah Webster and his assistants are moving across the landscape tracking down a new word.Then Collins really gets going, letting his claws dig in In the next stanza, that trademark humor really shows It is a small noun about the size of a mouse, one that will seldom be used by anyone, like a synonym for isthmus but they are pursuing the creature zealouslyCollins could be talking about poetry itself, a form zealously pursued but too often seldom used Despite the deadpan tone, these are poems that are aware of poetic tradition QUESTIONS ABOUT ANGELS opens with a poem called American Sonnet, which announces that We do not speak like Petrarch or wear a hat like Spenser Collins seems to believe that his particular American landscape and culture requires a variation on the standard forms of Western tradition This country, he seems to say, demands a rethinking of it all.Part of that rethinking is a probe of the whole idea of a poet Collins asks the questions his students would love to ask, if they only had the guts How, he asks, do you know for sure if a poet is contemporary This, of course, is a twist on the earlier, unspoken but understood question of What makes a sonnet a sonnet, anyway addressed in the first poem.Just as he produced an American sonnet that rolls off the tongue with the ease of banter, Collins comes up with an American, can do answer to the who s a contemporary poet question It is easy to find out if a poet is a contemporary poet and thus avoid the imbroglio of calling him Victorian or worse, Elizabethan, or worse, medieval If you look him up in The Norton Anthology of English Literature and the year of his birth is followed only by a dash and a small space for the numerals only spirits know, then it is safe to say that he is probably aliveThough clothed in simple words and humor, Collins is actually taking a pretty sophisticated jab in these two stanzas, which are the first part of the appropriately titled poem The Norton Anthology of English Literature Is a poet worthy simply because he is in the anthology And do these omnipresent anthologies really define periods and countries Coming just a few pages after the Noah Webster reference, Collins may also be pushing his readers to wonder about the anthologizers research processes.Collins loves to mix poems to history s overachievers with odes to underachievers or family pets who never seemed to have much, if any, ambition In one of the book s sweeter poems, Collins offers praise of a character named Riley Here s the last stanza of the very brief poem The Life of Riley A Definitive Biography, where yet again, Collins mixes the quotidian and the poetic, letting his linguistic ability peep through the everyman persona at key moments He never had a job, a family or a sore throat He never mowed a lawn Passersby would always stop to remind him whose life it was he was living He died in a hammock weighing a cloud.In a book that mentions weighing a dog and stripping layers of clothing off as he writes, it makes sense that this poet doesn t flinch from depicting the weighing of a cloud Like the character who never had a sore throat, Collins writes glitch free poems that are both a breeze and a blast to read Aviya Kushner

    • Free Read [Crime Book] Õ Questions About Angels - by Billy Collins ×
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      Published :2018-06-27T20:27:24+00:00

    One thought on “Questions About Angels

    1. Matthew on said:

      The cover and the title of this collection are both misleading. Very misleading. The collection is divided into four parts. Of the four parts, only one (the second part) reflects what the cover and title would suggest - that is, a poetry collection dealing with religious themes. And even in the second part, these religious themes are minimal. Poems with titles like "Questions About Angels", "A Wonder of the World", "The Afterlife", and "The Dead" are likewise misleading."Questions About Angels" [...]

    2. Alan on said:

      Never be ashamed of kindergarten—it is the alphabet's only temple.—"Instructions to the Artist," pp.54-55Billy Collins is apparently something of a big deal. Poet Laureate of the United States, from 2001 to 2003. Frequent guest on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion. Subject of a documentary film in 2003 as well. Even so, I can't recall ever having run into Collins' work before reading Questions about Angels. Of course, I must also concede, and not for the first time, that poetry isn't [...]

    3. Erin on said:

      I decided to try out Billy Collins after I enjoyed one of his poems in Good Poems for Hard Times. I wish my poetry journey had started here, I really do. Why do teachers make young learners struggle with John Donne and George Herbert when there is something accessible and relatable right here? It's like starting kids off with The Metamorphosis instead of The Cat in the Hat and then being surprised you don't have lifelong readers. Ranting aside, I found Collins' poetry to be in very accessible la [...]

    4. James Murphy on said:

      Whimsy is a good word to apply to Collins' work. The world amuses him. He wallows in life's innumerable twists and turns. I think I've mentioned before how much charm his sense of humor lends to his poetry. It's this that makes the reader smile with pleasure at reading a poem about a jazz combo impatient at the lateness of the hour as an angel is intent on dancing on the head of a pin forever. I laughed at Jack's wish to write his love a letter of apology from the top of the beanstalk. His imagi [...]

    5. Rachel Watson on said:

      I can't say enough about how much I loved this poetry anthology. Collins pulls you in with his wit and then spins deep truth about ordinary, simple-on-the-surface concepts. His playfulness and humor permeate every poem, and his creativity and imagination are seemingly boundless.If you haven't read this already, I highly recommend it!

    6. Alexander Rolfe on said:

      I liked Forgetfulness best, but also The Willies, and Weighing the Dog. And I liked the thought of kindergarten being the alphabet's only temple.

    7. Allison on said:

      I like Collins as a conceptual poet (which I suspect he might hate). I think he does plainspoken, funny, and quirky well. I appreciate his accessibility. That said . . . is this poetry? I know it is, but it doesn't always feel like poetry to me. It lacks the lines that seize you, that create those "stop and process" moments--or perhaps it just delivers them in such offhand, shrugging tones that it almost makes the messages more inaccessible because they don't pull you in, make you think, make yo [...]

    8. Michael Reed Davison on said:

      I haven't been into reading poetry since I outgrew Shel Silverstein. Billy Collins is fun! Here's my favorite excerpt:Of all the questions you might want to askabout angels, the only one you ever hearis how many can dance on the head of a pinIt is designed to make us think in millions,billions, to make us run out of numbers and collapseinto infinity, but perhaps the answer is simply one:one female angel dancing alone in her stocking feet,a small jazz combo working in the background.She sways lik [...]

    9. Krista Stevens on said:

      So many favorites"The Norton Anthology of English Literature" - reference to History - Paula S."Questions Abut Angels""The First Geniuses""They have yet to discover fire, much less invent the wheel,/so they wander a world mostly dark and motionless/wondering what to do with their wisdom, like young girls wonder what to do with their hair.""The Afterlife""They wish they could wake in the morning like you/and stand at a window examining the winter trees,/ every branch traced with the ghost writing [...]

    10. Julie Ehlers on said:

      I find the newer collections by Billy Collins are rather preoccupied with mortality, which is understandable but not always fun to read about, so it was nice to go back to this earlier collection, first published in 1991, to find him in high spirits and still trying to figure out women. Favorites: "The Wires of the Night" (haunting poem about death; I realize this is ironic given what I just said a few lines ago), the wonderful "Nostalgia," and the title poem.

    11. Paul on said:

      Collins has a singular voice, that manages to be beautiful and humorous with simple language which expresses complex ideas. His reading voice is also terrific. He seems like a guy you would meet in a bar and strike up a conversation with, and he would seem nice and normal, and then he would just start dropping pointed pearls out of nowhere and you would damn well buy that man another beer.

    12. Leland on said:

      If you were gifted enough to experience language like you experience a sunset in a new and amazing landscape, you would probably find Collins' mix of language and experience unexceptional and uninspiring. For the rest of us, it's a fascinating revelation.

    13. Alberta Adji on said:

      The best relaxing poems are in! Loving Billy Collins forever, for his soothing, mild gossamer thread woven words!

    14. J Chritsian on said:

      It is very, very jarring to read this stuff alongside a big grip of Alice Notley. I like Alice Notley a lot better.

    15. Alex on said:

      I wish I had added this to my currently reading, because I'd love to know how long it took me to read a short poetry book on the toilet! Finding a collection by one of my favourite poets in the bathroom of a new if temporary house was a wonderful coincidence and I loved reading it - Billy Collins' style is so comforting to me, and he so often gets right to the heart of mundane moments. 'American Sonnet', the opener of the collection was by far my favourite, and I will cherish it for a long time [...]

    16. Cindy on said:

      Had the opportunity to attend a workshop with Billy Collins - a brilliant poet and interesting speaker.

    17. Kerry on said:

      Fantastic, as usual. But minus one star for Collins' ever backward looking melancholy.

    18. Danielle Barnhart on said:

      “Questions About Angels,” by Billy Collins, is a bright, funny, and thoughtful book of poetry. Most all of the poems are written in tercets or quatrains, and with an airy lightness. The book is broken into four parts, and seems to scroll across the pages. It is elegantly written—refreshingly clear, yet not lacking depth in the least. I even enjoyed the breaths of white space.He spins connections between emotion and the weather, and it’s funny that even though I read this book at night, i [...]

    19. Rachel Weingarten on said:

      I had the pleasure of studying with Billy some years back and this remains one of my favorite of his collections. Such sweet, yearning language disguised as utter simplicity. Gorgeous stuff.

    20. Kerry on said:

      Continuing my current obsession with Billy Collins, I picked yet another collection of his poems: Questions about Angels. Some of the poems (like: “First Reader,” “The Death of Allegory,” and the wryly, charming poem entitled “Forgetfulness”) I had come across when I read Sailing Alone Around the Room (a book that combined new poems with some of Mr. Collins’ greatest hits from past selections) but they are so good that I don’t mind reading them again. Other poems (most notably, [...]

    21. Daryl on said:

      I'm not much of a fan of modern poetry; the stuff I read in Harper's or the New Yorker often leaves me befuddled. But I love Billy Collins. This is an older collection (published in 1991) and I didn't always enjoy it as much as some of his other work I've read, but for the most part, these are fun poems. Collins has a reputation for humor and these poems can be whimsical at times, but there's an underlying seriousness, I think. This collection contains one of my favorite of Collins' poems, "The [...]

    22. AnandaTashie on said:

      This collection didn't speak to me as much as his others that I've read (shrug). Liked these, though:From Forgetfulness, p 21, "No wonder you rise in the middle of the night / to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war. / No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted / out of a love poem that you used to know by heart."From The First Geniuses, p 32, "Once in awhile someone will make a pronouncement / about the movement of the stars, the density of silence, / or the strange [...]

    23. Punk on said:

      Poetry. Collins writes extremely accessible poetry. Some people regard that as beingI don't know, unpoetical? They have problems with him. I love him. He has an off-the-wall sense of humor, creates beautifully ridiculous metaphors, writes in a friendly conversational tone, and loves to reference fine art: music, paintings, other poems. He is easy and fun to read, and the things he comes up with -- insomnia as an inexhaustible toddler on a tricycle! -- constantly amaze me. That said, this book wa [...]

    24. Nathaniel on said:

      I don't normally like poetry, because I find most of it to be pretentious, boring drivel (though, to be fair, I may be somewhat biased - I was raised on a steady diet of 19th century English romanticism, Shakespeare, and Peter Filkins). However, I have long appreciated this book because Collins is neither pretentious nor boring. He spends the entire volume having way too much fun, in a way that's thoroughly enjoyable. Really, he's a *good poet* - his poems are short, well-constructed, and evocat [...]

    25. Hannah Jane on said:

      Favorite lines:Questions About Angels: "Do they fly through God's body and come out singing? Do they sit in little gardens changing colors?"Afterlife: "You go to the place you always thought you would go, the place you kept lit in an alcove in your head There are those squeezing into the bodies of animals while others float off into some benign vagueness, little units of energy heading for the ultimate elsewhere"Memento Mori: "Not one of these things will attend my burial, not even this dented g [...]

    26. Booker on said:

      An early Billy Collins collection, but his poetic gifts were already apparent. This has "Forgetfulness" which I first heard on a YouTube video which is both a wonderful poem and aesthetically pleasing video. I have reread a number of these poems dozens of times because they are so wonderful. Whether it is a poem about a wolf walking around a book of fairy tales, pondering its meaning, or one about the beginning of jazz, Collins leaves you with an impression that you can't help thinking of hours [...]

    27. Sara on said:

      Billy Collins is a great poet- accessible in a world that fears poetry. He does what every great poet should - feels the grass between his toes and takes that to a metaphysical level, without losing the reader in complex metaphors that take a doctorate in literature to untie. Having been an English major, I can appreciate T.S. Eliot for example, but have no lasting desire to read his works. I feel that Collins is earthy and can be plugged into immediately, and the poetry sinks in and is memorabl [...]

    28. Gary on said:

      In his homage to our first primers, and by extension, to our introduction to literature, Collins writes:"I can see them standing politely on the wide pagesthat I was still learning to turn, Jane in a blue jumper, Dick with his crayon-brown hair,playing with a ball or exploring the cosmosof the backyard, unaware they are the first characters, the boy and girl who begin fiction."Collins speaks eloquently, often teasingly with good humor, about everyday events and experiences. His poetry makes you [...]

    29. Sarah on said:

      Another great book. There were some I didn't like at all, but there still are many gems. My favorite:American SonnetA History of WeatherReading myself to sleep (he perfectly describes this)ForgetfulnessField Guide (Wisteria has a new reference for me)Memento Mori (my favorite line: Not one of these things will attend my burial,not even this dented goosenecked lampwith its steady benediction of light.)Saturday morning (perfectly described)The Willies (hilarious)English Country House

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