Author: Billy Collins

Type: Fiction, poetry

Published: 2008

I read it: July 2011


It’s clear why Billy Collins is comfortable wearing the helm of the common man’s poet. He toes that line between sly and weighty, clever and conversational. A lot in Ballistics is a bit reflexive, with many poems inspired by books or paintings or anything else an aging man can see from his desk. He does death well (“The First Night,” “The Mortal Coil”) and he makes poems like “A Dog on His Master” touching without being goofy. As expected, he can’t stay away from the subject of poetry itself, and it’s fun to be on the receiving end of his “Envoy,” in which he implores:

Go, little book, out of this house and into the world…stay out as late as you like, don’t bother to call or write, and talk to as many strangers as you can.

It’s all wonderful backpack fair for summer wandering.

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