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Ballistics: Poems by Billy Collins

Ballistics: Poems (2008)

by Billy Collins

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I like Billy Collins in the same way I like a good summer action blockbuster. I want to enjoy the formula without having to think too deeply. Mission accomplished. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
I avoided his poetry for years, the way one avoids eye contact in a lift. Imagining it to be all about horses, I ignored the ravings—sane as they turned out to be. Perhaps it was his Poet Laureate status, or maybe just his popularity in general. I don’t remember now what compelled me to pick up that first book of his poetry. It was on display (oh those evil displays) and it was his newest publication at the time. I really wanted to hate him, but then I read the poems and I didn’t. The language he uses elevates the ordinary everyday and mundane into an appreciative art. It was accessible and relational. It made me rethink the small moments in life and wonder if they could ever be captured in just such a simple manner.

I started with Ballistics, but I don’t believe it matters which one you pick up to begin. Just begin. ( )
  ms.hjelliot | Nov 18, 2014 |
In this book of poems, former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins ruminates on the everyday, love, divorce, solitude, and more.

The poems are free verse with two or three lines per stanza and hardly a rhyme, but full of succinct and memorable images such as in "Divorce": "Once, two spoons in bed, / now tined forks // across a granite table / and the knives they have hired." It's not dense, but it's not simple, either, as I ponder the layers of meaning in the imagery. Some of his poems are playful, such as "Adage," which begins, "When it's late at night and branches / are banging against the windows, / you might think that love is just a matter // of leaping out of the frying pan of yourself / into the fire of someone else, / but it's a little more complicated than that." He then proceeds to pick apart love and adages, and cleverly turn their meanings to his purposes. Every now and then, he captured a feeling that I instantly understood but could never put into words, such as a reaction of sorrow and guilt "On the Death of a Next-Door Neighbor": "The harmony of this house, not his, / might be missing a voice, / the hallways jumpy with the cry of the telephone --" This was my first collection of Billy Collins' poems, and won't be the last. ( )
  bell7 | May 7, 2013 |
Having read some of Collins' other collections, I can only say that this work doesn't stand up to his earlier collections. I may be judging this collection slightly more harshly because of my past exposure to his work, but in my defense, I'm also judging it against the many other poetry collections I've read. And, without Collins' name, I don't think many of the previoiusly published poems (in high name journals) would have found nearly such prestigious publications. I can only say, if you're new to Collins: start with his earlier works.

As for this collection, all of the poems come from interesting places, and most give a unique view that stands out, thought-wise, admirably. Yet, the emotion is in many cases absent or distanced. And, more bothersome in my own view, few of the lines stand out in such a way as to surprise you or catch your breath. And,still fewer of the poems demand rereading. In other words--I found much of it good, and very little, if any of it, great.

On the whole, this is an interesting collection with interesting thoughts--but, the poetry at the heart of this collection does not stand up to its pedigree, press, or author and publications. I'd like to say otherwise, but in the end, it just felt rather a let-down. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Jun 14, 2012 |
In Ballistics, Billy Collins former United States Poet Laureate delivers another great collection of poetry. Collins shows his wit and self deprecating humor along with his unique skills of observation. Collins poems prove again worthy of all his accolades. A very good collection. ( )
  realbigcat | Oct 1, 2011 |
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The former U.S. poet laureate and best-selling author of Nine Horses and Around the Room presents a new compilation of his acclaimed poems, some of which have never before been published.

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