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A new collection from Billy Collins, former US poet laureate and “America’s favorite poet” (The Wall Street Journal).

Billy Collins’ new collection brings together more than 50 poems and showcases his deft mixing of the playful and the serious that has made him one of our country’s most celebrated and widely known poets. Here are poems that leap with whimsy and imagination, yet stay grounded in the familiar, common things of everyday experience. 

Collins takes us for a walk with an impossibly ancient dog, discovers the original way to eat a banana, meets an Irish spider, and even invites us to his own funeral. Sensitive to the wonders of being alive as well as the thrill of mortality, Whale Day builds on and amplifies Collins’ reputation as one of America’s most interesting and durable poets. 

©2020 Billy Collins (P)2020 Random House Audio

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  • Maggie Hess
  • 03-11-20

To be read in the voice of Billy Collins

I have considered Billy Collins among the best writers ever since I first came across his poetry, which happened to be a poem he read on Prairie Home Companion about a Lanyard. I myself have long considered myself a poet, and I often wondered, regarding Collins, how he got to the superior collected quality you find in Whale Day and the rest of his works. "It is something about his voice," I considered quietly to myself, not realizing the irony in my words until later. Now I think I have found just what it is about his writing that carries so strongly in voice, because I imagine one day, long ago, when Billy Collins looked down at his own shoes and said to himself "If I want to be a poet, I am going to have to transform my literal voice into something that better fits what I do wish to have as my poetry." So on that day, age 13, when his voice finally had begun changing to something screechy and juvenile naturally on his own, Collins began the artful embodiment of the style of speech that you hear in this wonderful book today, or maybe you haven't read this yet, in which case let me describe it. The narrating voice of Billy Collins puts true poetry, deep emotional moments of love and trembling, to a vocalization that I personally have described as monotone. But it is in the contrast from his totally relatable writing to this droll yet sensitive tone, that so exquisitely and beautifully captures all that I value in poetry.