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Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry

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A dazzling new anthology of 180 contemporary poems, selected and introduced by America’s Poet Laureate, Billy Collins. Inspired by Billy Collins’s poem-a-day program with the Library of Congress, Poetry 180 is the perfect anthology for readers who appreciate engaging, thoughtful poems that are an immediate pleasure. A 180-degree turn implies a turning back—in this case, to p A dazzling new anthology of 180 contemporary poems, selected and introduced by America’s Poet Laureate, Billy Collins. Inspired by Billy Collins’s poem-a-day program with the Library of Congress, Poetry 180 is the perfect anthology for readers who appreciate engaging, thoughtful poems that are an immediate pleasure. A 180-degree turn implies a turning back—in this case, to poetry. A collection of 180 poems by the most exciting poets at work today, Poetry 180 represents the richness and diversity of the form, and is designed to beckon readers with a selection of poems that are impossible not to love at first glance. Open the anthology to any page and discover a new poem to cherish, or savor all the poems, one at a time, to feel the full measure of contemporary poetry’s vibrance and abundance. With poems by Catherine Bowman, Lucille Clifton, Billy Collins, Dana Gioia, Edward Hirsch, Galway Kinnell, Kenneth Koch, Philip Levine, Thomas Lux, William Matthews, Frances Mayes, Paul Muldoon, Naomi Shihab Nye, Sharon Olds, Katha Pollitt, Mary Jo Salter, Charles Simic, David Wojahn, Paul Zimmer, and many more.

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A dazzling new anthology of 180 contemporary poems, selected and introduced by America’s Poet Laureate, Billy Collins. Inspired by Billy Collins’s poem-a-day program with the Library of Congress, Poetry 180 is the perfect anthology for readers who appreciate engaging, thoughtful poems that are an immediate pleasure. A 180-degree turn implies a turning back—in this case, to p A dazzling new anthology of 180 contemporary poems, selected and introduced by America’s Poet Laureate, Billy Collins. Inspired by Billy Collins’s poem-a-day program with the Library of Congress, Poetry 180 is the perfect anthology for readers who appreciate engaging, thoughtful poems that are an immediate pleasure. A 180-degree turn implies a turning back—in this case, to poetry. A collection of 180 poems by the most exciting poets at work today, Poetry 180 represents the richness and diversity of the form, and is designed to beckon readers with a selection of poems that are impossible not to love at first glance. Open the anthology to any page and discover a new poem to cherish, or savor all the poems, one at a time, to feel the full measure of contemporary poetry’s vibrance and abundance. With poems by Catherine Bowman, Lucille Clifton, Billy Collins, Dana Gioia, Edward Hirsch, Galway Kinnell, Kenneth Koch, Philip Levine, Thomas Lux, William Matthews, Frances Mayes, Paul Muldoon, Naomi Shihab Nye, Sharon Olds, Katha Pollitt, Mary Jo Salter, Charles Simic, David Wojahn, Paul Zimmer, and many more.

30 review for Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    C.A.

    The introduction to this book is such bullshit! Some friends say it's best to just ignore such nonsense that SPEWS out of Billy Collins, the Phil Collins of POETRY! And I say NO, DON'T IGNORE IT! How can we? He makes an argument AGAINST experimentation in poetry in his introduction much like one would tell a child to NOT run barefoot through the field of broken glass down the street. The truth is that Billy Collins IS THE REASON the very BIG and UGLY REASON I have found myself doing damage control The introduction to this book is such bullshit! Some friends say it's best to just ignore such nonsense that SPEWS out of Billy Collins, the Phil Collins of POETRY! And I say NO, DON'T IGNORE IT! How can we? He makes an argument AGAINST experimentation in poetry in his introduction much like one would tell a child to NOT run barefoot through the field of broken glass down the street. The truth is that Billy Collins IS THE REASON the very BIG and UGLY REASON I have found myself doing damage control with European poets who think HE represents American poetry! Billy Collins BORES the readers of Europe! He neuters American poetry (and not in a good way!), he has no sharp edges himself and GLADLY trims the edges off of anyone who actually has the courage to have them! Billy Collins is a DANGER to the history of ART! Billy (Phil) Collins is that WRETCHED SONG "Sussudio" playing on a loop in the hospital, or wherever it is you must die, playing over and OVER! And I don't want to die, so maybe I need his awful poems and his twin borther Phil Collins's stupid song BLASTING to keep Death at bay! Maybe in the end, these will be the tools to make it through! But while I'm alive and well, FORGET IT! CAConrad http://CAConrad.blogspot.com

  2. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    I commend Billy Collins and the Library of Congress for this initiative. The whole goal of this book is to re-introduce ourselves to poetry as entertainment -- as a pastime rather than as a lesson plan. Well, we've been reading one poem aloud at the beginning of every class, and I think the sheer practice is more important than anything else we've gotten from this collection. Only about one in five poems really "moves" my honors class of sophomores.... and I have to say I'm mostly in agreement. I commend Billy Collins and the Library of Congress for this initiative. The whole goal of this book is to re-introduce ourselves to poetry as entertainment -- as a pastime rather than as a lesson plan. Well, we've been reading one poem aloud at the beginning of every class, and I think the sheer practice is more important than anything else we've gotten from this collection. Only about one in five poems really "moves" my honors class of sophomores.... and I have to say I'm mostly in agreement. This isn't to say that there aren't some terrific modern poems in here, but many of them are more accessible when they are read and mulled over, rather than heard aloud. And I hesitate to analyze or discuss any of them in depth, for fear that it would somehow go against the purpose of the anthology. We have taken to reading many of the poems twice. That seems to help. I wish that this book featured more poems from its accompanying website, which seems more tailored to younger and teenaged readers. (And I like them more too!) It's kind of refreshing to read a poem and not discuss it to death. But it makes me seriously question the best way to "enjoy" poetry.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    I don't love poetry but i love billy collins, and he makes me want to give poetry a second chance. I saw this collection at the library; it's a book of 180 poems that were selected for the 180 program he created as poet laureate, when students at high schools had the chance to hear one poem on every school day — with no pressure to interpret, respond, write a paper, anything. His introduction touches on exactly why I and apparently so many other people gave up on poetry; he uses the syllogism "I I don't love poetry but i love billy collins, and he makes me want to give poetry a second chance. I saw this collection at the library; it's a book of 180 poems that were selected for the 180 program he created as poet laureate, when students at high schools had the chance to hear one poem on every school day — with no pressure to interpret, respond, write a paper, anything. His introduction touches on exactly why I and apparently so many other people gave up on poetry; he uses the syllogism "I speak English. You are writing in English. Why can't I understand what you are saying?" These are not poetry lite, they're all excellent and there are all different styles. I found myself reading them aloud to friends. That's what poetry should be like. I highly recommend this; go get it, you can read the whole thing in an hour.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Owen

    I read this book roughly in the way described in the preface, reading a few at a time and not trying to analyze them at all. I have to say, this has done much more for my poetry appreciation than having someone try to explain in depth the masterful construction of one single poem I don't really like. While most of these poems didn't do much for me, the fact that a few did makes me want to read more, and learn why they do.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Evie Wasson

    It's important to have context for this book. "Poetry 180 is designed to make it easy for students to hear or read a poem on each of the 180 days of the school year. The poems were selected with the intended audience of high school students. They are intended to be listened to by all members of the school community through the end of daily announcements over the public address system. Poems can inspire and make us think about what it means to be a member of the human race. By just spending a fe It's important to have context for this book. "Poetry 180 is designed to make it easy for students to hear or read a poem on each of the 180 days of the school year. The poems were selected with the intended audience of high school students. They are intended to be listened to by all members of the school community through the end of daily announcements over the public address system. Poems can inspire and make us think about what it means to be a member of the human race. By just spending a few minutes reading a poem each day, new worlds can be revealed." The poems range from funny to sad to exciting. I def recommend this book, "especially for high schoolers and college students like me haha" @baldwinseniors2017 ...if you know you know.....find the easter egg

  6. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    My fiance and I are reading through this together, slowly -- we get to it before bed once a week or so, and then only for a handful of poems. I love reading new poetry aloud with someone, as it allows and forces me to go more slowly and reflect/discuss what I'm hearing. This particular anthology is perfect for this: it was edited by Billy Collins, who specifically went for poetry that is easy to access, heavy on imagery (unsurprising from him, as this tends to be the style he writes with as well My fiance and I are reading through this together, slowly -- we get to it before bed once a week or so, and then only for a handful of poems. I love reading new poetry aloud with someone, as it allows and forces me to go more slowly and reflect/discuss what I'm hearing. This particular anthology is perfect for this: it was edited by Billy Collins, who specifically went for poetry that is easy to access, heavy on imagery (unsurprising from him, as this tends to be the style he writes with as well). I'm discovering new stuff and dog-earing lots of pages. (I know folks rail against this but I'm unrepentent here: poetry books are the only books I dog-ear, so I have a record of what struck me and what I loved and can get back to it easily. It works for me.)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Rather than actually finishing this book, I've decided to put it down. Like with much of contemporary poetry, I have trouble getting into it. In the first 65 pages, there were some lovely and fun poems (William Matthews' "A Poetry Reading at West Point," for instance), but my feet feel heavy trying to get through it all. I will likely return to this book, but for now I would like to concentrate on some of the more seminal poets in American Poetry. I will say that I think Billy Collins accomplishe Rather than actually finishing this book, I've decided to put it down. Like with much of contemporary poetry, I have trouble getting into it. In the first 65 pages, there were some lovely and fun poems (William Matthews' "A Poetry Reading at West Point," for instance), but my feet feel heavy trying to get through it all. I will likely return to this book, but for now I would like to concentrate on some of the more seminal poets in American Poetry. I will say that I think Billy Collins accomplishes his goal here: to present good, readable poetry by living poets. This is a book I would recommend to my literature-loving friends without caveat, because you don't have to have studied poetry to enjoy these poems.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Every high school student can come to love poetry. Yikes, did I really say that? Even the seemingly simple-minded athletic types whom Dr. Johnson in his early dictionary would have dismissed as “brutes”? I’m including everyone, and I’ve found the method to reach everyone. In Poetry 180, Billy Collins delivers 180 poems that he feels are accessible to high school students and of interest to them. The number, 180, corresponds to the days that we are in school (when winter storms aren’t chewing th Every high school student can come to love poetry. Yikes, did I really say that? Even the seemingly simple-minded athletic types whom Dr. Johnson in his early dictionary would have dismissed as “brutes”? I’m including everyone, and I’ve found the method to reach everyone. In Poetry 180, Billy Collins delivers 180 poems that he feels are accessible to high school students and of interest to them. The number, 180, corresponds to the days that we are in school (when winter storms aren’t chewing them up like granola). Collins wants us to simply read a poem to the kids every day. We are not to analyze it. We are not meant to “torture a confession out of it” or “[beat] it with a hose,” as he says in his opening poem, “Introduction to Poetry.” We are simply meant to “waterski across the surface” of it. He suggests that we read it over the morning announcements, but that is taking it a bit too far. Whenever the announcements come on in my classroom, a meditative glaze falls over my students’ eyes, and all they can hear is the sound of one hand clapping. However, the idea of just reading one of these poems a day to the students and allowing them to comment on it freely for a few minutes is pure genius. I put the poem up on the Smartboard for the ones who don’t take anything in if they just hear it, since I am like that myself. (I remember adults chiding me when I was a kid, “In one ear and out the other,” as though I could do something about it.) I knew I was onto something when I forgot to put the poem up one day. With their knee-jerk sense of entitlement usually reserved for jeopardy games, bathroom breaks, or a chance to go outside, they asked why we didn’t get to look at a poem. Hitherto unimaginable! The book draws students in with poems that echo their lives. I think our favorite so far has been “Did I Miss Anything?” by Tom Wayman. It begins, “Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here / we sat with our hands folded on our desks / in silence for the full two hours.” I can’t read this poem without hearing the voice of Mrs. Margene, a recently retired A. P. English teacher who has been my greatest mentor in sarcasm (Despite what Education professors might say, her students loved her for it). This poem led to a lengthy discussion on other stupid questions worthy of a poem and a few honest confessions. Mixed in with the familiar are poems that require students to step outside themselves. In “What I Would Do” by Marc Peterson, the narrator reflects on what he would do if his wife left him—push his motorcycle over, throw things into the back yard, play Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as loud as he can—stuff that implies a wild rage that is almost humorous. Toward the end, he repeats, “I would see our maple budding out the window,” as though he is so tripped up with emotion that one wonders if his suspicions are not completely imaginary. Another moving poem in the book is “In Simili Materia” by Timothy Russell, in which the narrator sees a little girl slap her baby doll. At the sound, pigeons fly up from their nests at a factory nearby, but soon “return to their niches to roost.” We come home to what we know, however ugly it is. It took a bit for the students to connect the dots, but when they did, I could really see it in their faces. There are a few poems in the book that have fallen on the floor with a clunk. “We don’t get it” has to be an acceptable phrase as long as it doesn’t come too soon. The only real drawback to following Collins’s plan is that, with all this learning, it’s hard to get back to teaching. I have a fixed amount of material to cover, right? The book is just another reminder that sometimes the best way to teach is to step out of the way.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    The longer I live with this collection, the more I find to love in it. If you'd like to read a great assortment of accessible, quirky, and sometimes brilliant contemporary poetry, pick this one up!

  10. 4 out of 5

    M.J. Lau

    A great collection of fairly modern poems -- ideal for secondary students

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jimbo

    Most of the poems are good. Some are really good! Lots of new ideas and perspectives to think about.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    It's hard for me to give any anthology five stars. I enjoyed many of the poens in this collection, there were a few that I found underwhelming. Some of my favorites include the following: The Panic Bird, by Robert Phillips; Ordinance on Arrival, by Naomi Lazard, and; What He Thpught, by Heather McHugh.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne Russell

    My favs in this collection: Aaron Fogel The Printer's Error Nick Flynn Cartoon Physics, Part 1 David Berman Snow Carol Ann Duffy Queen Herod David Lehman June 11 David Clewell Vegetarian Physics Joe Wenderoth My Life Naomi Shihab Nye For Mohammad Zeus, Age 15 Sharon Olds The Quest David Hilton In Praise of Bic Pens Kaylin Haught God Says Yes to Me Marie Howe How Many Times

  14. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    Fabulous collection with the feeling that Billy Collins is right there with you sharing these as you read on and on. Lots of new names to me (I'm shamefully uneducated in North American poetry) and quite a few old friends. I wish the UK had a Billy Collins.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shawn Sorensen

    I was hooked when one of Dorianne Laux's poems was near the front. A very un-Billy Collins type of poet. And I found in this collection deeper, more meaningful poems that what I would normally expect from Collins, a very readable and, dare I say - charming - writer. Still, most of the poems were like Collins's work itself: free verse, conversational, descriptive and sympathetic but not all that poignant. Funny but slightly inane. Mainly centered around what seems to be his major couple of topics I was hooked when one of Dorianne Laux's poems was near the front. A very un-Billy Collins type of poet. And I found in this collection deeper, more meaningful poems that what I would normally expect from Collins, a very readable and, dare I say - charming - writer. Still, most of the poems were like Collins's work itself: free verse, conversational, descriptive and sympathetic but not all that poignant. Funny but slightly inane. Mainly centered around what seems to be his major couple of topics: death, wonder, and mom & dad. There are somewhat frivolous poems about not liking tofu and the need to memorize grammar definitions, while occasionally some more serious poems about poverty and divorce. Here's a typical poem, one I liked from Douglas Goetsch called "Smell and Envy": You nature poets think you've got it, hostaged somewhere in Vermont or Oregon, so it blooms and withers only for you, so all you have to do is name it: primrose - and now you're writing poetry, and now you ship it off to us, to smell and envy. But we are made of newspaper and smoke and we dunk your roses in vats of blue. Birds don't call, our pigeons play it close to the vest. When the moon is full we hear it in the sirens. The Pleiades you could probably buy downtown. Gravity is the receiver on the hook. Mortality we smell on certain people as they pass. Good stuff. Collins excels at picking out quirky work that makes you furl your brow and occasionally scratch your temples. There aren't many GREAT poems here. Still, it's fun to read and talk about. This is poetry that keeps you on your toes while inviting you over for a glass of merlot.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Beth Casey

    Wonderful collection! Introduced me to unknown poets to pursue.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    For the most part, I thought this book was a valiant attempt to get high school students and the general public into some contemporary poetry without either boring the hell out of them or scaring them away from more. Of course, with any anthology, there are some winners and losers - and I would say that might entirely depend on what type of poetry reader you are (I tend to hate most really abstract poetry, especially if it's too absurd - which is why I hate existential literature - I could write For the most part, I thought this book was a valiant attempt to get high school students and the general public into some contemporary poetry without either boring the hell out of them or scaring them away from more. Of course, with any anthology, there are some winners and losers - and I would say that might entirely depend on what type of poetry reader you are (I tend to hate most really abstract poetry, especially if it's too absurd - which is why I hate existential literature - I could write the most absurd things, call it art and get people to believe it is...) Anyway, some of the poems I really enjoyed are: "Mrs. Midas" by Carol Ann Duffy, Of Politics and Art by Norman Dubie, Rotary by Christina Pugh, "For Mohammed Zeid, Age 15" by Naomi Shihab Nye, Lesson by Forrest Hamer, and "Song of Smoke" by Kevin Young. But this is today - if I reread the collection next year, I may like a totally different group. Love poetry...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tavolacci

    Billy Collins has offered an outstanding collection of poetry here. These poems are readily accessible to a wide range of readership. This poetical assortment is headed off with Collins's poem, "Introduction to Poetry," which sets the tone for the rest of the collection, combatting the academy's sole desire to "tie the poem to a chair with rope / and torture a confession out of it. / They begin beating it with a hose / to find out what it really means." Absolutely wonderful. And such fantastic po Billy Collins has offered an outstanding collection of poetry here. These poems are readily accessible to a wide range of readership. This poetical assortment is headed off with Collins's poem, "Introduction to Poetry," which sets the tone for the rest of the collection, combatting the academy's sole desire to "tie the poem to a chair with rope / and torture a confession out of it. / They begin beating it with a hose / to find out what it really means." Absolutely wonderful. And such fantastic poets! Charles Simic (a graduate of my high school and pulitzer prize winner), Christina Pugh (a professor at UIC), Kenneth Koch, Peter Meinke, Charles Bukowski, and Judith Kerman, just to name a few. This is an empowering text that will help students to move against the notion that poems require a teacher's explanation, or an "OKAY" stamp on a reflective essay.

  19. 4 out of 5

    BJ Rose

    When I saw that this anthology was put together by a former Poet Laureate of the U.S., I looked forward to reading, as the back cover promises, a collection of poems "by the most exciting poets at work today." I love poetry of all kinds, free-verse or rhyming, serious or silly, realistic or fantastic, so I picked this up with high expectations, and I guess that was my problem. I expected some of them to be dark - and some are; I expected some to be silly - and some are; I expected some to be poi When I saw that this anthology was put together by a former Poet Laureate of the U.S., I looked forward to reading, as the back cover promises, a collection of poems "by the most exciting poets at work today." I love poetry of all kinds, free-verse or rhyming, serious or silly, realistic or fantastic, so I picked this up with high expectations, and I guess that was my problem. I expected some of them to be dark - and some are; I expected some to be silly - and some are; I expected some to be poignant - and some are. What I didn't expect was that so many of them would speak only to other contemporary poets and not to the reader.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I am an English teacher. Poetry is not my favorite genre, nor is it in the top five. Come to think of it, I don't enjoy poetry in the least bit. So I read Poetry 180 at the suggestion of one of my colleagues, and I was definitely hooked. Billy Collins is amazing. The poetry is rich in figurative elements and poetry terms I teach to prepare seniors for the AP test, yet is accessible for even my struggling readers at the freshmen level. The poems are interesting and make for great class discussion I am an English teacher. Poetry is not my favorite genre, nor is it in the top five. Come to think of it, I don't enjoy poetry in the least bit. So I read Poetry 180 at the suggestion of one of my colleagues, and I was definitely hooked. Billy Collins is amazing. The poetry is rich in figurative elements and poetry terms I teach to prepare seniors for the AP test, yet is accessible for even my struggling readers at the freshmen level. The poems are interesting and make for great class discussions!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Liz VanDerwerken

    Poetry 180 is a wonderful anthology of contemporary poems, and one which I would definitely revisit. This would be a good introductory collection to anyone wanting to read more poetry, but who is not sure where to start. As Billy Collins states in the introduction, "The idea behind the printed collection...was to assemble a generous selection of short, clear, contemporary poems...—poems whose injection of pleasure is immediate."

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Collins is a master poet! I love his humor and imagination--how he takes ordinary every day happenings and objects and enhances them with poetic expression. In this volume he selects some of his favorite poets, including an old school mate of mine from Indiana University, Dean Young, an accomplished poet in his own right. I read this book cover to cover three years ago, but keep it on a handy shelf to refer to often.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    The "turning back to poetry" is a wonderful idea. I love that he targets the book toward high schoolers and encouraged them to read just one contemporary poem for each day of the school year. It's a little effort that can really go a long way. He features some great poets as well, i.e. Charles Simic, Lucille Clifton, Galway Kinnell, and Sharon Olds. Definitely recommend for high schoolers, or anyone interested in casually reading poetry.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Texx Norman

    I lent my copy out and never got it back. Ten years ago I was teaching high school English and shared poems from this book most days. The kids who thought they hated poetry found day after day that there were a whole lot of poems they loved. This book also sent me on a search to buy the books of many of these poets.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Margie

    A truly excellent anthology of modern verse. Collins selected poetry that was a) modern and b) accessible. Originally designed to be used as a poem-a-day program for high schools (Collins's laureate program), this collection could really help turn on younger readers to poetry.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Davelowusa

    This is a great book of poetry to enjoy. Not to dissect and lose sleep over. To enjoy. To find something you relate to. To love the sound of a line. And then to move on from. Wouldn't it be nice if English teachers taught poetry that way?

  27. 4 out of 5

    R.K. Cowles

    3 1/2 stars

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mary Christine Delea

    A very diverse poetry anthology, and a great book for new readers of poetry and us "old" readers as well.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    Really great collection of poetry. I found I was inspired by quite a few of them. I even got a couple of story ideas from it. Who said poetry isn't relevant anymore?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alison Robinson

    Great way to incorporate and encourage poetry in education without smothering it.

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