Questions about Angels: Poems

Billy Collins, Author William Morrow & Company $9 (105p) ISBN 978-0-688-10731-4
Smack-dab in the middle of this collection is the delightful ``Purity,'' a poem detailing Collins's macabre writing process. On Wednesdays, in the late afternoon, the poet goes to his study and sheds his clothes. He then removes his flesh--``so that what I write will be pure, / completely rinsed of the carnal''--and takes out each of his organs so as not ``to hear their ancient rhythms / when I am trying to tap out my own drumbeat.'' ``Purity'' is about ideas rather than feelings, but the poet executes his metaphors with perfect precision and a bravura wit. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about most of the other poems here. Collins's images are often strange and wonderful but too frequently his poems are constricted by the novelty of a unifying metaphor. In ``Cliche,'' Collins ( Pok er face ) writes about his life as ``an open book,'' and all that we eventually end up learning is that he ``loves to feel the daily turning of the pages.'' We can admire the scope of Collins's imagination, but his poems rarely induce an emotional reaction, precluding us from any affinity with his experience. This volume was selected by Edward Hirsch for the 1990 National Poetry Series. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
Hardcover - 105 pages - 978-0-688-10774-1
Paperback - 88 pages - 978-0-8229-5698-3
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