Sailing Alone Around the Room

Billy Collins: Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems (New York: Random House, 2000)

Collins - Sailing Alone Around the Room
I invested the year 2013 in Rilke, reading at least one of his poems every day and pondering not only the man, but also the sparseness of his words and the ability of very few words to convey great meaning. So I started 2014 wanting to continue the discipline of reading poetry every day, but looking for something that was a bit less esoteric. Who better than Billy Collins? The former Poet Laureate of the United States and Distinguished Professor at the City College of New York has an ability to make poetry fun while at the same time expressing some of the deepest emotions that we experience.

This collection of poems did not disappoint me. Although I had set the discipline of reading one poem a day to allow the poems to sit with me and me to reflect on them, there were days when one Billy Collins poem just wasn’t enough. I found myself reading the poems out loud when I was all alone and laughing out loud as well.

Although the words Collins uses are simple and common, there are no simple phrases anywhere in the book. Each combination of words serves as an invitation to go deeper into our emotions and our observations. Collins can take some simple experience and turn it into a slice of life that makes you want to remember.

My choice of poet for 2014 has been just right for my year.