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Billy Collins, one of our most beloved poets, has chosen poems of wit, humor, imagination, and surprise, in a range of styles and forms, for The Best American Poetry 2006. The result is a celebration of the pleasures of poetry. In his charming and candid introduction Collins explains how he chose seventy-five poems from among the thousands he considered. With insightful c Billy Collins, one of our most beloved poets, has chosen poems of wit, humor, imagination, and surprise, in a range of styles and forms, for The Best American Poetry 2006. The result is a celebration of the pleasures of poetry. In his charming and candid introduction Collins explains how he chose seventy-five poems from among the thousands he considered. With insightful comments from the poets illuminating their work, and series editor David Lehman's thought-provoking foreword, The Best American Poetry 2006 is a brilliant addition to a series that links the most noteworthy verse and prose poems of our time to a readership as discerning as it is devoted to the art of poetry.


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Billy Collins, one of our most beloved poets, has chosen poems of wit, humor, imagination, and surprise, in a range of styles and forms, for The Best American Poetry 2006. The result is a celebration of the pleasures of poetry. In his charming and candid introduction Collins explains how he chose seventy-five poems from among the thousands he considered. With insightful c Billy Collins, one of our most beloved poets, has chosen poems of wit, humor, imagination, and surprise, in a range of styles and forms, for The Best American Poetry 2006. The result is a celebration of the pleasures of poetry. In his charming and candid introduction Collins explains how he chose seventy-five poems from among the thousands he considered. With insightful comments from the poets illuminating their work, and series editor David Lehman's thought-provoking foreword, The Best American Poetry 2006 is a brilliant addition to a series that links the most noteworthy verse and prose poems of our time to a readership as discerning as it is devoted to the art of poetry.

30 review for The Best American Poetry 2006

  1. 5 out of 5

    Daniel2

    It's incredible what passes for poetry now. "Prose poetry" has become an excuse to write like you speak and absolves the writer from having any unique insights or profound observation. If that is an unfair assessment of prose poetry then perhaps it is my own fault for not having made adequate effort at finding the good stuff. Perhaps 2006 was a bad year, but my suspicion is that poetry, prose or narrative or whatever, has been dumbed down by the 20 year old morons that infest the MFA programs in It's incredible what passes for poetry now. "Prose poetry" has become an excuse to write like you speak and absolves the writer from having any unique insights or profound observation. If that is an unfair assessment of prose poetry then perhaps it is my own fault for not having made adequate effort at finding the good stuff. Perhaps 2006 was a bad year, but my suspicion is that poetry, prose or narrative or whatever, has been dumbed down by the 20 year old morons that infest the MFA programs in this country. Even so, there are maybe three gems in here. You've gotta mine and dig and wash and skip, but you may find a couple with some depth and worth a few re-reads. Most of these "poems" (that's right, quotation marks) are lame, kitschy, not clunky, not at all clunky, which is great, but that's not enough, there has to be something more, not just clever commas, to let us know, how clever, you think you are, by separating your sentences, just so. (See what I did there?) Two stars for the few good ones. Instead of this, just read Keats again.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Travelin

    In his introduction, guest editor Billy Collins quotes a friend who says 70% or 80% of poetry shouldn't have been published. Note: that says PUBLISHED, not WRITTEN. Even his brief sentence saying that this is the best poetry published in 2006 sounds sarcastic. I in no way disagree with the sentiment, but I'm not sure Billy Collins is helping things. The first time I saw the exceptionally Irish name Billy Collins, I knew what to expect: trite, humorous pieces with a human touch, but dwelling on ov In his introduction, guest editor Billy Collins quotes a friend who says 70% or 80% of poetry shouldn't have been published. Note: that says PUBLISHED, not WRITTEN. Even his brief sentence saying that this is the best poetry published in 2006 sounds sarcastic. I in no way disagree with the sentiment, but I'm not sure Billy Collins is helping things. The first time I saw the exceptionally Irish name Billy Collins, I knew what to expect: trite, humorous pieces with a human touch, but dwelling on overly enumerated, in some way peasant, details. So, far too many of these poems are mildly humorous collections of cliches or examples of itemizing things to make them sound ridiculous or out of sequence. As usual, I wonder what happens to poets who still express the genuinely poignant, even if it's just love poetry, which doesn't show up in an Anglo-Saxon or postmodernist age. Any editor who can keep a poetry journal solvent is probably too efficient to take risks or embrace highly personal sentiment anyway. There are just two poems which I'll remember, one of which comes close to greatness. True to form, the first is written by a 3 time winner of Best American Poetry; the other by a very old man who has been teaching at the Iowa Writer's Workshop for decades. Here is the first: https://books.google.com/books?id=-f5... The second, which may not be in this Google excerpt, is the old poet remembering moments in Paris, compared to nostalgia from others, including his Jewish history, which he says we can have, all of it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Billy Collins was guest editor for the 2006 edition of The Best American Poetry. Given that there are over 7,000 literary and “little” magazines published in English, he probably didn’t read every American poem before making his selection. (Although he may have tried; some of the journals that first published the poems in this year’s collection are pretty obscure.) Strictly speaking, a more accurate title for the book might be “the poems published in 2006 that Billy Collins happened to find, rea Billy Collins was guest editor for the 2006 edition of The Best American Poetry. Given that there are over 7,000 literary and “little” magazines published in English, he probably didn’t read every American poem before making his selection. (Although he may have tried; some of the journals that first published the poems in this year’s collection are pretty obscure.) Strictly speaking, a more accurate title for the book might be “the poems published in 2006 that Billy Collins happened to find, read attentively, and select based on his mood and the confluence of the planets at that particular time.” Collins has selected poems that, like his own, can be understood by almost any reader—no Ph.D. required. These poems also reflect the sense of playfulness and joie de vivre that any reader of Collins work would recognize. Arranged from A to Z by author’s last name, the annual “best” collection also features comments by the poets on their work, a feature I particularly enjoy.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    I was horribly disappointed by this anthology in every way.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brett

    anthologies are tough. some i loved, some i hated, few i nothinged.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    I haven't read much of Billy Collins despite how famous he is. His introduction was pretty good. His selections for 2006's Best American Poetry leave a lot to be desired. I found most of the poems to be too lengthy and bland. I didn't bother scanning the poems but a lot of them had a dull iambic pentameter feel. A few poems showcase technical brilliance but still feel unexciting or distant (Laura Cronk's "Sestina for the Newly Married," Julie Larios's "Double Abecedarian: Please Give Me," John A I haven't read much of Billy Collins despite how famous he is. His introduction was pretty good. His selections for 2006's Best American Poetry leave a lot to be desired. I found most of the poems to be too lengthy and bland. I didn't bother scanning the poems but a lot of them had a dull iambic pentameter feel. A few poems showcase technical brilliance but still feel unexciting or distant (Laura Cronk's "Sestina for the Newly Married," Julie Larios's "Double Abecedarian: Please Give Me," John Ashbery's "A Worldly Country," and a few sonnets and villanelles that weren't good enough for me to bother noting title or author). Many of the poems were overly colloquial and read like scenes from a bad novel: Exhibit A: Paul Violi's "Counterman," which is made up of dialogue between two customers ordering sandwiches and a deli worker. —What'll it be? Roast beef on rye, with tomato and mayo. —Whaddaya want on it? A swipe of mayo. Pepper but no salt. —You got it. Roast beef on rye. You want lettuce on that? No. Just tomato and mayo. —Tomato and mayo. You got it. ...Salt and pepper? (p. 131) Exhibit B: Mark Pawlak's weird vomit of cliches in "The Sharper the Berry": Tomorrow is another day, All-Wind-and-Piss. It's always darkest before the dawn, Bottom-of-the-Heap. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, Thick-as-a-Brick. Behind the clouds, the sun is shining, Back-to-the-Wall. After the rain comes a rainbow, All-Work-and-no-Play. Midnight is where the day begins, Beats-His-Meat. (p. 92) Exhibit C: Bao Phi's narrative about a white guy who challenges some Vietnamese guy to a street race. It's apparently about cultural appropriation and a play on the dual meaning of the word "race.": So Huey and JPEG were like a team JPEG's real name was Nimoy cuz his parents Came to America and watched Star Trek and They thought Nimoy was an American name Now Nimoy called himself JPEG because he thought he was SO          PRETTAY (p. 94) Despite how mediocre most of the collection is, there are some wonderful lines to be found: "There are words behind words/ and half the time our thoughts spraying out like water/from a hose, half the time banging inside our heads/like a wren in a house." (p. 14, from Tom Christopher's "Rhetorical Figures") "The present is a life insurance premium automatically/deducted from your paycheck, while the past burns/out of control in a vacant lot in the outskirts of town." (from Terrence Winch's "Sex Elegy"). Poems that I liked: Laura Cronk's "Sestina for the Newly Married," Stephen Dobyns's "Toward Some Bright Moment," Robert Hass's "The Problem of Describing Color," Ron Koertge's "Found," Dorianne Laux's "Demographic," Kay Ryan's "Thin," Charles Simic's "House of Cards," Charle's Harper Webb's "Prayer to Tear the Sperm-Dam Down" (despite finding the poet's viewpoint hypocritical and problematic), and Franz Wright's "A Happy Thought." =9/75 (12%) poems that I liked. This is also the first time I bothered reading the contributer's notes. Some of these were better than the poems. Not sure if that's a positive or a negative when considering the book as a whole...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Grant

    I really don't read enough poetry. I wish I could find collections like this more often. I picked this up at a 'free books' bookcase at Langara College, while I was wandering around, waiting for a job interview. So, even though I didn't get the job it wasn't a total loss. As well I know where to go if I ever need some literature, they did have some nice books on those free shelves.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    Review to come, I swear.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Patty

    In the fall of 2010, I went with my mom to the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in Newark, New Jersey. Attending this festival had been a dream of mine for years and I was pleased that my mom was willing to attend it with me. It was especially gratifying that she had a good time. I have been a poetry reader for years. I had met Nikki Giovanni in high school and fell in love with her poetry. That meeting helped me to realize that authors are real people and that poetry might be more accessible t In the fall of 2010, I went with my mom to the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in Newark, New Jersey. Attending this festival had been a dream of mine for years and I was pleased that my mom was willing to attend it with me. It was especially gratifying that she had a good time. I have been a poetry reader for years. I had met Nikki Giovanni in high school and fell in love with her poetry. That meeting helped me to realize that authors are real people and that poetry might be more accessible than my English classes had made me think. Over the years I had adopted some favorite poems and poets. Attending the Dodge Festival made me want to read some new poets and I decided that the Best American Poetry series was one way to encounter new authors and poems. I had no particular reason for starting with the volume from 2006 except it was cheap and you would have to be dead (in my opinion) not to have heard of Billy Collins. For me this was a good volume to start with. I found poems by Kay Ryan and Bob Hicok - both of whom I had heard in Newark. There is a poem by Mary Oliver, another famous contemporary poet. (I hope that isn't an oxymoron). Also I liked the poems by Amy Gerstler, Mark Halliday and Dean Young among others. My only complaint was the introduction by Billy Collins. I have a friend who detests Billy Collins' poetry and although I would not say I detest Collins, I did not like his words about the state of poetry in 2005. Collins was doing the anthology and so he has the right to speak his mind, but I felt he was unduly harsh. However, Collins made me think about what he had to say about poetry and that is what I like about poems. The poems I like take me somewhere (which Collins also likes) and they make me think. One way or another, in spite of Billy Collins or because of him, I appreciated this volume of poetry. I will dip into it again and again and I would recommend that you do the same. If not with this anthology then with another. As Edward Hirsch says, "This poem has come from a great distance to find you." All of poetry is looking for a reader - you should try being the reader.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tom Romig

    A fine selection by a leading poet, accompanied by series editor David Lehman, who also knows his way around and into poetry. Worth the price of admission for Mr. Lehman's foreword and Mr. Collins's Introduction, which, while both are informed accounts of the realms of gold of poetry, deal generously with the infighting of the poetry world in general and the success and popularity of Billy Collins in particular. (And, if this hasn't enticed you, the foreword reveals how Garrison Keillor helped p A fine selection by a leading poet, accompanied by series editor David Lehman, who also knows his way around and into poetry. Worth the price of admission for Mr. Lehman's foreword and Mr. Collins's Introduction, which, while both are informed accounts of the realms of gold of poetry, deal generously with the infighting of the poetry world in general and the success and popularity of Billy Collins in particular. (And, if this hasn't enticed you, the foreword reveals how Garrison Keillor helped put Mr. Collins on the poetic map.) Here's my contribution to the discussion of the theme of "accessible poetry" (my favorite but often denigrated in academic circles): Billy Collins at the White House Poetry Night (May 11, 2011) [check it out on YouTube]: "Good evening. What a thrill and an honor it is to be here. And how grateful we are to the President and Mrs. Obama for hosting this, for drawing attention to poetry in America. "I’m only sorry that so many of my fellow poets could not be here to join us tonight. No, not really. It’s important that I’m here. "One of my poet friends phoned me earlier in the week and said you’re going to make so many poets jealous going to the White House. And I said, well, isn’t that the whole point of writing? And then he reminded me that the point of writing is to marry truth and beauty. So, hats off to him, but he’s not here either." But I should have emphasized this at the start: it's a marvelous selection of poems. To pick just two examples that challenged and moved me: Mary Jo Salter, "A Phone Call to the Future" Alison Townsend, "What I Never Told You About the Abortion"

  11. 4 out of 5

    C

    Not my favorite of the best american poetry volumes, but definitely not a bad selection, either. I was introduced to several poets that were new to me (I absolutely loved Alison Townsend's "What I Never Told You About The Abortion" and will be seeking out more of her work) which is what I look to this series for. Do I agree with those who say it is ludicrous to select a "best" group of poems each year? Sure. But, at the same time, there is a soft spot in my heart for the series. When I first start Not my favorite of the best american poetry volumes, but definitely not a bad selection, either. I was introduced to several poets that were new to me (I absolutely loved Alison Townsend's "What I Never Told You About The Abortion" and will be seeking out more of her work) which is what I look to this series for. Do I agree with those who say it is ludicrous to select a "best" group of poems each year? Sure. But, at the same time, there is a soft spot in my heart for the series. When I first started seriously reading poetry, this series was sort of the road-map of my beginning. I found several poets I loved and branched out from there... Do I think it is always an honest selection of what is the "best" work published that year? No. I think it heavily favors those extensively published already and definitely favors the big name poetry magazines. That said, you can always find some excellent poetry in these volumes. That is all that I care about when I buy them. I just bought the last two volumes I was missing (1989 and 1988) used and am excited to take a trip backwards and see what I think...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tai Harris

    Is a collection of good writers written on happier themes about babies, hair and simple everyday experiences. It was refreshing to read a collection that didn’t have me feeling angered or reaching for tissues because it was too much to handle emotionally. One of my favorites is Amy Gerstler’s “For My Niece Sidney, Age Six”. The speaker is credible and knowledgeable she is wise and offers advice on what Sidney will soon experience; the good and the bad of growing up. It illustrates the innocent m Is a collection of good writers written on happier themes about babies, hair and simple everyday experiences. It was refreshing to read a collection that didn’t have me feeling angered or reaching for tissues because it was too much to handle emotionally. One of my favorites is Amy Gerstler’s “For My Niece Sidney, Age Six”. The speaker is credible and knowledgeable she is wise and offers advice on what Sidney will soon experience; the good and the bad of growing up. It illustrates the innocent mind and the youthfulness and a girl that will go through life with expectations that may not always play out to her liking. The poems in this collection are very visual and positive. Sometimes it is not always useful to depressing and dark in my own writing. I think this collection has helped me improve on to choose themes to write about and that writing can be based on something as uncomplicated as what happened a second ago or simple verities. I say this is a good read if you are looking for poetry that doesn’t do anything for you except that words exist on a page and to admire the talent of published writers.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sherrill Watson

    I tried to like this book. I really did. But each of the poets seems to draw so heavily from his / her own experience as to leave me out in the cold. I read each poem carefully, not skimming, but just couldn't relate, or didn't care. There are a few done in complex prose, pretty, really, but not poetry to me. I read them, then I looked at the authors. To my surprise, Mary Oliver had written one of them. There were only two out of 150-some-odd, that I liked. Is it just me? The Poet With His Face I I tried to like this book. I really did. But each of the poets seems to draw so heavily from his / her own experience as to leave me out in the cold. I read each poem carefully, not skimming, but just couldn't relate, or didn't care. There are a few done in complex prose, pretty, really, but not poetry to me. I read them, then I looked at the authors. To my surprise, Mary Oliver had written one of them. There were only two out of 150-some-odd, that I liked. Is it just me? The Poet With His Face In His Hands -- Mary Oliver, and Gratification -- Susan Wood. Mary Oliver has written so many poetry books, it goes without saying; her and Maya Angelou. But Susan Wood? " . . . Every time, arriving here is a surprise, like getting what you've always wanted but never thought you'd have--the last piece of peach pie, all the first editions of your favorite writer--not to sell, just to keep--that longed-for kiss, someone knowing, REALLY KNOWING how you feel. Now the sun is going down in flames like a ship on fire, but slowly, listing a little to the left. Don't worry, everyone on board gets off. That's the best part. Everyone is saved." -- Susan Wood

  14. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Billy Collins guest edited this book. I am currently reading it. A really great intro by him, about writing poetry. And such a variety of poetry styles, something to steal and try out from many. The order is alphabetical by author's last name so the style changes immensely from one to the next. My favorite so far is "For My Niece Sidney Age Six" about a sort of Pipi Longstocking-type non-conformist child who is loved and understood by her aunt. Guess why I like it? Read on! But I also like "Lett Billy Collins guest edited this book. I am currently reading it. A really great intro by him, about writing poetry. And such a variety of poetry styles, something to steal and try out from many. The order is alphabetical by author's last name so the style changes immensely from one to the next. My favorite so far is "For My Niece Sidney Age Six" about a sort of Pipi Longstocking-type non-conformist child who is loved and understood by her aunt. Guess why I like it? Read on! But I also like "Letter from My Ancestors," because it is written in a style very similar to my own and done so well!!!!! I want to buy this for several people, including Carleen, and say, tell which are your favorites?

  15. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    Although I disagree with some of Collins's selections for the "best" poems of 2006, I think that, for the most part, many of the ones chosen are, in fact, very good. One thing I did notice is that, even though in his introduction Collins admits that about a third of the poets selected were new to him, many of the names are those of well-known, clearly established poets with whose work I already am familiar. I don't know whether to call that a criticism or not, especially since I'm always looking Although I disagree with some of Collins's selections for the "best" poems of 2006, I think that, for the most part, many of the ones chosen are, in fact, very good. One thing I did notice is that, even though in his introduction Collins admits that about a third of the poets selected were new to him, many of the names are those of well-known, clearly established poets with whose work I already am familiar. I don't know whether to call that a criticism or not, especially since I'm always looking for poets who are new to me, but I have a feeling that friendship and camaraderie had more to do in some of the selections chosen than Collins would like to admit in print.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michaela

    Might be reading this a bit late, but it was on sale at the bookstore (for fairly obvious reasons, as well as a celebration of National Poetry Month) and you can never read too much poetry. Plus, my knowledge of contemporary has to be updated somehow! I'll let you know how it goes. May: loved reading through this. Obviously some poets appeal to me more than others... I'm starting to get the hang of this anthology business though. The introduction was lovely. Thank you Billy Collins. I particular Might be reading this a bit late, but it was on sale at the bookstore (for fairly obvious reasons, as well as a celebration of National Poetry Month) and you can never read too much poetry. Plus, my knowledge of contemporary has to be updated somehow! I'll let you know how it goes. May: loved reading through this. Obviously some poets appeal to me more than others... I'm starting to get the hang of this anthology business though. The introduction was lovely. Thank you Billy Collins. I particularly loved Amy Gerstler, Robert Hass, Laura Kasischke.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jannett

    Next time when you're at the bookstore and you need a little morsel to read...I suggest a few from this collection...namely Refusal to Notice Beautiful Women by Mark Halliday; On the Way to the Doctor's Office by Jim Harrison; Sex Elegy by Terence Winch and Found by Ron Koertge- the best in the book. Actually, does anyone else out there have stuff by Mark Halliday? I really loved the few poems I've read by him. Would like to find more.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Garrett Zecker

    A pretty good collection. It is impossible to read all of the poetry in all of the literary/creative journals that are in existence, however having some texts in one place that can be easily digested without looking at a collection like "love poems for everyone" or something like that... These books are wonderful, and should be read slowly and enjoyed like tea with honey.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    Certainly a fun read, but few poems actively stole my breath. And that is what I look for when it comes to poetry. Yes, these are good poems, nice poems, but most of these poems didn't find me scrambling back to the opening line to begin all over again. My favorite poem was Paul Violi's "Counterman."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    An amazing collection. From the opening poem, I was not disappointed. Some of my favorites included "Verities" by Kim Addonizio, "Our Generation" by Carl Dennis and "Prayer to tear the Sperm-Dam Down" by Charles Harper Webb. i will definitely look for more from these poets.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ami

    I didn't like it halfway through, but I kept thinking that since it's an anthology, I'd find a gem or two. Not really. But then again, I'm not really a fan of the editor's poetry, either. And I most certainly don't "get" this prose poem thing. Um...isn't that just prose?

  22. 5 out of 5

    Georgia

    Finally--a book of poetry for happy people! I thought this was a fun, interesting assortment of wonderful short poems. Perfect summer reading for those who want a literary amuse-bouche.

  23. 4 out of 5

    J.R.

    Much of the poetry is well constructed, innovative, and really enjoyable. But it's forward by Billy Collins is close to nauseating. Skip it, read the book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    elise

    a lot of great entries. it's good to keep up with what's contemporary.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    Say what you will about the series and this volume's place int it, the "Double Abecedarian: Please Give Me" is worth the price you pay for the whole book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    billy collins is a totally hilarious writer - his introduction has been far more enjoyable than any of the poems so far.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cami

    Didn't 'finish' it. That much poetry is a lot to take in in such a short time frame (library loan), but I don't think you can go wrong reading the Best American Poetry collections.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chris Johnston

    This is the "Best" of the Best of... Series. I applaud the guest editor Billy Collins on his submissions. N

  29. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    I loaned this to a student and she never returned it. SIGH.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I registered a book at BookCrossing.com! http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/12390706 I registered a book at BookCrossing.com! http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/12390706

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