Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Do you read a poem a day?

180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day
edited by Billy Collins

I've been dreading writing this review (even though I should have done so months ago) because I simply have nothing to say about this collection.

I loved it and thoroughly recommend it, but there is absolutely nothing to say about it, other than it's a must-read for poetry fans. But that's not really interesting.

To explain, 180 More is a collection of contemporary poetry edited by Billy Collins, American Poet Larueate from 2001-2003. A prime goal of his is to teach high-school students to love poetry, an aim of mine as well. To that end, Collins edited this collection (as well as its predecessor, which I will review later) so that students could read (and, more importantly, enjoy) a poem a day. As a high-school English teacher myself, I know this aim is admirable but often easier said than done. However anyone, student or not, will find something to love in this collection.

This collection helps achieve Collins goal by including poetry that is both "simple" (although such a word is misleading) and powerful. Furthermore, this is poetry that does not need scanning, counting, and dissecting. Such activities are not what poetry lovers do when they sit down to read poetry -- it's what they do when they show off.

However, don't believe that 180 More features only facile contemporary poetry that contributes to the mediocrity of thought and dumbing-down of education that is so frequently seen today. This collection provides both simplicity and depth -- a refreshing change for students (and non-students alike) who equate poetry with painful over-analysis. The poetry here is not overly difficult to read (at least at a surface level), but it frequently provides great insight, especially upon further reading.

In a nutshell: Everyone will find something to love here. A must for poetry lovers, and an even greater must for those looking to get more involved in contemporary poetry.

Bibliolatry Scale: 5 out of 6 stars


Shelly said...

Thanks for reviewing this collection. I do read poetry, averaging well over a poem a day. I don't prefer anthologies of mixed poets, but like to go for collections gathered by the poet him/herself, most of the time. Of course, that is never a good way to come across new poets I might not have read yet, so I am always on the lookout for a good anthology.

Thanks for doing the review, so that I would come across this anthology.

heather (errantdreams) said...

Such activities are not what poetry lovers do when they sit down to read poetry -- it's what they do when they show off.

Heh, nice quote. :) I definitely prefer to just enjoy poetry.

rachel said...

High school English classes made me think I hated poetry, when I really just hated analyzing poetry.

I'm definitely adding that book to my wish list, as I should read more verse - I read a LOT of prose!

glad I found your site - I'm finding lots of books I haven't read!