NATIONAL BESTSELLER • From the former United States Poet Laureate and New York Times bestselling author of Aimless Love, a collection of more than 135 small poems, eleven of them new to this edition, and each a thought or observation compressed to its emotional essence
“Whenever I pick up a new book of poems, I flip through the pages looking for small ones. Just as I might have trust in an abstract painter more if I knew he or she could draw a credible chicken, I have faith in poets who can go short.”—Billy Collins
You can spot a Billy Collins poem immediately. The amiable voice, the light touch, the sudden turn at the end. He "puts the ‘fun’ back in profundity,” says poet Alice Fulton. In his own words, his poems tend to “begin in Kansas and end in Oz.”
Now “America’s favorite poet” (The Wall Street Journal) has found a new form for his unique poetic style: the small poem. Here Collins writes about his trademark themes of nature, animals, poetry, mortality, absurdity, and love—all in a handful of lines. Neither haiku nor limerick, the small poem pushes to an extreme poetry’s famed power to condense emotional and conceptual meaning. Inspired by the small poetry of writers as diverse as William Carlos Williams, W.S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, and Charles Simic, and written with Collins’s recognizable wit and wisdom, the poems of Musical Tables show one of our greatest poets channeling his unique voice into a new phase of his exceptional career.
Only my hand is asleep, but it’s a start.
About the Author
Billy Collins is the former Poet Laureate of the United States. He is the author of twelve collections of poetry, including the bestsellers Aimless Love, The Trouble with Poetry, and Sailing Alone Around the Room. He is also the editor of Poetry 180, 180 More, and Bright Wings. A former Distinguished Professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York, Collins served as New York State Poet from 2004 to 2006. In 2016 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in Florida with his wife, Suzannah.
“The poetry of Billy Collins has a kindness that glitters with hard truth, and in Musical Tables he gives us a book of short, witty, often luminous snapshots of our sad and funny world.”—Paul Simon
“Collins’s short poems warm the soul. Like koans and haiku, these micro-lyrics roam a range of tone and feeling, from elegies to epiphanies to bone-dry witticisms. . . . His formal compression is deft; his insights, arresting.”—Oprah Daily
“Collins has said that the short poem is a sort of test for a poet: just as an artist should be able to draw a simple chicken, the poet should be able to channel meaning, emotion, profundity, and humor all through a couple of lines. Perhaps Collins is also aware of society’s rapidly diminishing attention span, but he has created an undaunting, readable book of poetry that will appeal to all ages and hit you where it hurts.”—LitHub “Billy Collins, a former poet laureate of the United States, is a real gem. He’s a poet whose writing manages to be accessible, poignant and funny at the same time.”—The Palm Beach Post