Sunday, December 23, 2007

Picnic, Lightning (Book Review)

So I'd never read much by Billy Collins before this; and though I enjoyed him well enough, I was introduced to the likes of James Wright and William Stafford while reading Collins' Picnic, Lightning and must admit to preferring their style over his.

But, please, don't tell Billy: he's the former U.S. Poet Laureate, after all, and in many circles my opinion would be marked as slanderous.

Though, for the record, a few poems did leave their imprint on me: "Lines Lost Among Trees" is a hauntingly beautiful description of how some of our best lines go unwritten; and "Where I Live" is a touching recollection of his father's death. And, oddly enough, I surprised myself by enjoying "Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes" (which is just as erotic as it sounds).

And while nearly all of the poems in this collection are about poetry (for example: the author talking to his reader, the author discussing poetry at large, etc.) — and though Collins certainly has a way with words — at the same time I couldn't help but envision his face scrunched up in thought as he searched — painfully — for the right metaphor, the perfect turn of phrase.

Whereas in this regard, I am very much so a member of the Bukowski school of thought.

But look at it this way: just because you deck your walls with Salvador Dali doesn't mean you can't appreciate Michelangelo.

That's how I feel about Collins.


disgruntled world citizen said...

for a while, i really liked collins. but i've moved on. he's good and he probably deserved his
(2x?) poet laureate award. i've got two of his books on my shelf.

ds said...

I like wright a lot. never got much into collins. merry late christmas!

disgruntled world citizen said...

have you read Franz Wright? He's my particular fave right now.

Technomonk said...

I agree, Uncle Bukowski got that right. I listen to his advice, and there is lots of uncle advice scattered among the sensational, raw and tender appreciation. Writing is theaputic, its cathartic, and its driven by similiar forces that keep tight young female asses a topic of keen interest no matter how mundane they should have become long long ago.

Technomonk said...

Thanks for the links to the poems on - I liked them both - especially the second.

I noticed they take submissions for posting to their site... Is this worth the trouble? What is your opinion of this?