I received a promotional copy through the First Reads program. So a tip of the hat to Alaina Waagner and the Random House Marketing team.
I rate it a soft 4.
It's a lot of poetry: 247 pages of it, even after excluding the gap pages between sections. There are four sections of selected poems, ranging in publication date from 2002 to 2011. The section of new poems is saved for last, as it should be.
Collins writes a lot about nature, animals, and such. This isn't exactly my thing, but I give him credit for doing it well. However, it gets a bit redundant after a while. One thing I noticed, when looking at my list of stand-out poems, was how many referenced writing. Eleven of my original list of seventeen did. It's not that so many of the poems in the collection are about writing; it's that when he writes about writing, it's clear he has a talent for it.
Anyway, I narrowed my list of seventeen stand-out pieces to ten, six of which fall into the 'about writing' category:
"Reader" - It doesn't even get a real page number, but it's an excellent piece.
"Poetry" - From Nine Horses
"January In Paris" - From Ballistics
"Scenes of Hell" - From Ballistics
"Divorce" - Four lines, because he didn't need any more. From Ballistics
"Drawing You from Memory" - From Horoscopes For the Dead
"Drinking Alone" - A new poem.
"Villanelle" - New poem.
"If This Were a Job I'd Be Fired" - New poem.
"The Names" - A new poem dedicated to "the victims of September 11th and their survivors".
Note: I sent Ms. Waagner a query about one of the poems and am waiting for her response. It's a bit too early to expect one yet though.
Anyway, I leave you with this:And I am getting good at being blank, / staring at all the zeroes in the air.
- "Returning the Pencil to Its Tray" (Horoscopes For the Dead
Update (12/15): It looks like I won't be getting a response to my query. Oh well.