Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day

Article excerpt

POETRY 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, edited by Billy Collins. Random House, April 2005. $14-95

This collection, selected and introduced by former Poet Laureate of the United States Billy Collins, brims with wit, honesty, insight, and intelligence. It follows Collins's 2003 collection Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry, itself a print successor to the surprisingly popular Poetry 180 website (www.loc.gov/poetry/180), aimed at high school audiences and launched by Collins and the Library of Congress in 2002. That website, which features one poem for every day of the school year, continues to average over one million hits per month. After reading through this equally outstanding collection of poems, it's not hard to see why.

Collins is up to something much bigger than merely anthologizing good poems. He's striving to return poetry to ordinary people's lives, and part of that effort is introducing them to poets whose work is "accessible." As he argues in this volume's introductory essay, "accessible" does not necessarily mean "readily understood." Collins uses the term to describe poetry that is "easy to enter," that welcomes readers rather than stiff-arming them with purposeful obscurity. …

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