Aimless Love by Billy Collins

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I have been struggling to write this post for a week now. I really like reading poetry but I feel a little clueless as to how to talk about it! Here is my attempt.

I love Billy Collins’ poetry, so I can honestly say I was delighted to receive a digital copy for review consideration. Aimless Love is a collection of poems centered around love, poetry, and death or dying. From the first poem (“Reader”) to the last (a tribute to the victims of September 11), Collins has a casual but careful way of capturing life and love.

Some of my favorite poems in this volume revolved around the theme of writing and poetry. I love Collins’ phrases an analogies. Some of my favorites about reading and poetry included “Reader”, a simple dedication to the person reading the volume to follow; “Poetry”, which reminds the reader that there is no necessary formula to a poem; and “The Trouble with Poetry”, which follows musing on the art. “The Great American Poem” compares the poetic form with that of a novel. “Envoy” is a call to the written book to “talk to as many strangers as you can.” “The Suggestion Box” is about all the times a poet hears “you should write a poem about that.” “Villanelle” is a villanelle, which is my favorite form because of the way it reads so smoothly. Collins’ selection also happens to be about poetry, echoing “The first line will not go away.”

Others focused on relationships and mortality. “No Time” is a short tribute to his parents on a day when he only has time to honk the horn as he passes their graves in the cemetery. Or “Surprise” when he ponders the 325th birthday of Vivaldi. Or “The Lanyard” when he ponders the childhood gift he gave his mother, a gift that shows how inadequate gifts and words to give thanks to one’s mother. “The Revenent” is a poem from the perspective of the dog recently passed, telling what he really did not like about you. “Ballistics” thinks about the book that a bullet pierced in a ballistics photograph. “Divorce” is a perfect metaphor. It’s short and to the point, comparing a relationship to different cutlery. And then we have “Looking for a Friend in a Crowd of Arriving Passengers: A Sonnet”, which is unlike any sonnet you’ve ever seen before.

I feel mentioning what all the poems are about does not do justice to the richness of Collin’s language and the metaphors he creates. If you have not become acquainted with Billy Collins’ poetry, do so soon! You could start with this volume or dabble in a few poems at the Poetry Foundation website. You will not be disappointed.

Note: I received a digital review copy of this book for review consideration.

Reviewed on August 14, 2013

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

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