Gift: Prose


I’ve been under a small spell lately cast by the poet Billy Collins. He has me dangling on the briefest strands of words and bursting into the most unexpected, eye-crinkling smiles on the subway. He also has me dog-earring pages so I can flip back through or foist these finds upon others (true story: three co-workers read a poem I couldn’t shut-up about).

I don’t know enough about poetry. I sometimes find it to be intimidating and dense (or, maybe I’m the dense one). But, this slim Sailing Alone Around the Room collection has me completely smitten. And wishing I could sit at the end of the dock or in front of fireplace with Mr. Collins and discuss language, or smoking, or the chronicling of a day or learning how to drink a proper whiskey. I don’t drink whiskey either, but I think it would pair nicely with this prose, and Mr. Collins would be just the one to charm me into that warm joy too.

So, this summer I propose that poetry collections become the new coffee table book. Gift them to friends you visit. Leave them on nightstands for guests who bunk with you. It’s rich entertainment for stays both brief and lingering. With that, here’s is a short list of what to pick up according to two poetry authorities:

Mary Oliver
Richard Wilbur
Lisel Mueller
Sharon Olds
Linda Pastan
Wesley McNair
Mark Doty