NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins comes a twelfth collection of poetry offering over fifty new poems that showcase the generosity, wit, and imaginative play that prompted The Wall Street Journal to call him “America’s favorite poet.”
The Rain in Portugal—a title that admits he’s not much of a rhymer—sheds Collins’s ironic light on such subjects as travel and art, cats and dogs, loneliness and love, beauty and death. His tones range from the whimsical—“the dogs of Minneapolis . . . / have no idea they’re in Minneapolis”—to the elegiac in a reaction to the death of Seamus Heaney. A student of the everyday, Collins here contemplates a weather vane, a still life painting, the calendar, and a child lost at a beach. His imaginative fabrications have Shakespeare flying comfortably in first class and Keith Richards supporting the globe on his head. By turns entertaining, engaging, and enlightening, The Rain in Portugal amounts to another chorus of poems from one of the most respected and familiar voices in the world of American poetry.
Praise for The Rain in Portugal
“Nothing in Billy Collins’s twelfth book . . . is exactly what readers might expect, and that’s the charm of this collection.”—The Washington Post
“This new collection shows [Collins] at his finest. . . . Certain to please his large readership and a good place for readers new to Collins to begin.”—Library Journal
“Disarmingly playful and wistfully candid.”—Booklist
Collins (Aimless Love) returns with 60 typically on-brand poems of wandering, observing, and experiencing brief moments of profundity. There are elements of darkness and political awareness ("the piece/ on the morning radio about the former asylum/ whose inmates were kept busy/ at wooden benches in a workshop/ making leather collars and wristbands/ that would later be used to restrain them"), but mostly there's the Collins his devoted readership knows in poems such as "Not So Still Life," wherein "With the skull inching toward the pear,/ and the cluster of eggs beginning to wander,/ I had to reassure myself/ that my mother and father were still alive,/ I had a place to stay/ and a couple thousand dollars in a savings account." Collins's allure has always been in short, talky poems that deal with poetry's big subjects: life, death, and poetry ("Poetry is too busy thinking about her children/ as she replaces a gold button on the blazer of Pride"). Once again Collins delivers, musing about his students, taking a walk around a lake, and reflecting on music history: "see Keith standing/ on the shoulders of the other Rolling Stones,/ who are in turn standing on the shoulders of Muddy Waters,/ who, were it not for that endless stack of turtles.../ would find himself standing on nothing at all."