City of Santa Ana

Reviews for The Rain in Portugal:

by Billy Collins

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* The element of surprise is one of poetry's many provocations and pleasures, and Collins (Aimless Love, 2013) accomplishes it with ripple-effect finesse, wit, and pathos. In his eleventh collection, he reports on life as a wandering poet, contemplating landscapes and encounters in Ireland (where he experiences an odd sensation, a longing for the very place he's in), Greece (where he wonders, Is not poetry a megaphone held up / to the whispering lips of death?), and Moscow (where he imagines the life of the solemn trout staring up at him from a sturdy white plate). Disarmingly playful and wistfully candid, he refuses the obvious in On Rhyme: instead of recalling . . . that it pours mostly in Spain, / I am going to picture the rain in Portugal. Collins' poems deliver painterly images of poignant juxtaposition and cinematic scenes alive with the slink of a cat or the clangorous simultaneity of a busy street, and lush with soundtracks evoking the siren songs of an ordinary day. Collins' jazz-inspired meter makes reading his poems feel utterly natural and effortless, but then he ambushes us with wry exultation: What a brazen wonder to be alive on earth / amid the clockwork of all this motion. --Seaman, Donna Copyright 2016 Booklist

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Collins, whose last three collections have ascended the New York Times best sellers list, is a relative rarity among modern poets; he commands a wide readership and enviable publishers' contracts. This new collection shows him at his finest in poems such as "Greece"-amusing, even-toned, and fully in touch with the implied motifs of antiquity, time, art, and mortality as he calls his craft "a megaphone held up/ to the whispering lips of death" before rushing to join bathers at the beach. Overall, Collins's voice and approach vary little, and he can, in less successful poems, be twee, prosy, or banal. Nor will his basic method be satisfactory to readers who demand verbal density or the postromantic-cum-surreal style that has prevailed in American poetry for the past 30 years. Still, Collins's popularity shouldn't deceive us into thinking that he doesn't have the real stuff of the poet. VERDICT Another worthwhile collection from two-time Poet Laureate Collins, certain to please his large readership and a good place for readers new to Collins to begin, with at least half a dozen poems as fine as any he has written thus far.-Graham Christian, formerly with Andover--Harvard Theological Lib., Cambridge, MA Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.