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Introduction to Poetry

Introduction to Poetry


by Billy Collins

Analysis: Calling Card

A Life Observed

Collins' poems often take the form of close, witty observations of the world around him—things from his daily life and experience. In "Introduction to Poetry," Collins draws on his experience as a teacher and his interactions with his students.

When you read a Billy Collins poem, you might smile a knowing smile, nod sympathetically, laugh a little, or miss a good friend. What you won't do is spend much time with your dictionary or walk away from the poem with that all to familiar "poem" feeling of what just happened to me? Was that even in English?

Collins writes about things we know, common human experience, using language that feels casual, familiar, and conversational. He makes it all look pretty easy. But take Shmoop's word for it—it's not.

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