I read this book in a hurry and can write only a few honest sentences about it. But at least I made it inside.
How many times have I flung myself against a book of poetry that bruised my shoulders, fractured my wrists, as I tore my fingers on the marbled column, scrabbling for the hidden latch that would let me in?
That's the trouble with poetry. So much seems written to keep me out, as if I was a serf whose feet cannot soil the inlay of the stanzas.
Billy Collins, thanks be to god, writes poetry with plain wooden floors. His poems rise to rarified heights, but anybody can stand in the room and look around.
His pen connects, "me at this table with a bowl of pears / you leaning in a doorway somewhere / near some blue hydrangeas, reading this."
Which is why I like Billy Collins. He is still the only poet laureate of the United States who I can name without Googling. And it's because, in The Trouble With Poetry, he invites us into the poems, to share a beer, to stand by a window.
But it's a quicksilver kind of simple where, in the skip from one word to the next, you find yourself considering the room from a completely different corner. I love the way he references his tools - his pen, a sheet of paper - as the implements of this magic. One minute you are taking an amiable stroll as he points out the quiet of the morning street. The next, he tells you he breaks the silence with his pen and suddenly you are in a flip book of expanding images getting from the quiet street to whatever table a poet sits at to write.
So I can tell you two things: For a slim book I read in an evening to write this before bed, I want to read The Trouble With Poetry again. And again.
And this: "When at a loss for an ending, have some brown hens standing in the rain."