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Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry (Poetry 180)

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  2,523 Ratings  ·  153 Reviews
A dazzling new anthology of 180 contemporary poems, selected and introduced by America’s Poet Laureate, Billy Collins.

Inspired by Billy Collins’s poem-a-day program with the Library of Congress, Poetry 180 is the perfect anthology for readers who appreciate engaging, thoughtful poems that are an immediate pleasure.

A 180-degree turn implies a turning back—in this case, to p
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 25th 2003 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2003)
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Jun 03, 2008 CA rated it did not like it
The introduction to this book is such bullshit! Some friends say it's best to just ignore such nonsense that SPEWS out of Billy Collins, the Phil Collins of POETRY! And I say NO, DON'T IGNORE IT! How can we?

He makes an argument AGAINST experimentation in poetry in his introduction much like one would tell a child to NOT run barefoot through the field of broken glass down the street.

The truth is that Billy Collins IS THE REASON the very BIG and UGLY REASON I have found myself doing damage control
Jan 19, 2009 Charles rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I commend Billy Collins and the Library of Congress for this initiative. The whole goal of this book is to re-introduce ourselves to poetry as entertainment -- as a pastime rather than as a lesson plan.

Well, we've been reading one poem aloud at the beginning of every class, and I think the sheer practice is more important than anything else we've gotten from this collection.

Only about one in five poems really "moves" my honors class of sophomores.... and I have to say I'm mostly in agreement.
Oct 24, 2012 Cynthia rated it it was amazing
I don't love poetry but i love billy collins, and he makes me want to give poetry a second chance. I saw this collection at the library; it's a book of 180 poems that were selected for the 180 program he created as poet laureate, when students at high schools had the chance to hear one poem on every school day — with no pressure to interpret, respond, write a paper, anything. His introduction touches on exactly why I and apparently so many other people gave up on poetry; he uses the syllogism "I ...more
Aug 30, 2011 Becky rated it really liked it
My fiance and I are reading through this together, slowly -- we get to it before bed once a week or so, and then only for a handful of poems. I love reading new poetry aloud with someone, as it allows and forces me to go more slowly and reflect/discuss what I'm hearing. This particular anthology is perfect for this: it was edited by Billy Collins, who specifically went for poetry that is easy to access, heavy on imagery (unsurprising from him, as this tends to be the style he writes with as well ...more
Oct 15, 2010 Katie rated it liked it
I adored Billy Collins' introduction to this anthology, and am tempted to buy the book simply to have that on hand. As a graduate of a creating writing program, much of it is true to my experience. I remember fellow first year students who did not know how to read a poem out loud and students who loved to write poetry but read very little (or none) of it. I am also disappointed with the way high schools teach poetry - I'm disappointed by the lack of diverse and contemporary voices (many poems in ...more
Jun 02, 2015 Karen rated it it was amazing
The longer I live with this collection, the more I find to love in it. If you'd like to read a great assortment of accessible, quirky, and sometimes brilliant contemporary poetry, pick this one up!
Mar 05, 2016 Jon rated it really liked it
Every high school student can come to love poetry. Yikes, did I really say that? Even the seemingly simple-minded athletic types whom Dr. Johnson in his early dictionary would have dismissed as “brutes”? I’m including everyone, and I’ve found the method to reach everyone. In Poetry 180, Billy Collins delivers 180 poems that he feels are accessible to high school students and of interest to them. The number, 180, corresponds to the days that we are in school (when winter storms aren’t chewing th ...more
Shawn Sorensen
Sep 18, 2010 Shawn Sorensen rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I was hooked when one of Dorianne Laux's poems was near the front. A very un-Billy Collins type of poet. And I found in this collection deeper, more meaningful poems that what I would normally expect from Collins, a very readable and, dare I say - charming - writer.

Still, most of the poems were like Collins's work itself: free verse, conversational, descriptive and sympathetic but not all that poignant. Funny but slightly inane. Mainly centered around what seems to be his major couple of topics
Apr 10, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
For the most part, I thought this book was a valiant attempt to get high school students and the general public into some contemporary poetry without either boring the hell out of them or scaring them away from more. Of course, with any anthology, there are some winners and losers - and I would say that might entirely depend on what type of poetry reader you are (I tend to hate most really abstract poetry, especially if it's too absurd - which is why I hate existential literature - I could write ...more
Peter Tavolacci
Jun 04, 2013 Peter Tavolacci rated it it was amazing
Billy Collins has offered an outstanding collection of poetry here. These poems are readily accessible to a wide range of readership.

This poetical assortment is headed off with Collins's poem, "Introduction to Poetry," which sets the tone for the rest of the collection, combatting the academy's sole desire to "tie the poem to a chair with rope / and torture a confession out of it. / They begin beating it with a hose / to find out what it really means."

Absolutely wonderful. And such fantastic po
BJ Rose
Sep 10, 2009 BJ Rose rated it it was ok
When I saw that this anthology was put together by a former Poet Laureate of the U.S., I looked forward to reading, as the back cover promises, a collection of poems "by the most exciting poets at work today."

I love poetry of all kinds, free-verse or rhyming, serious or silly, realistic or fantastic, so I picked this up with high expectations, and I guess that was my problem. I expected some of them to be dark - and some are; I expected some to be silly - and some are; I expected some to be poi
Apr 20, 2011 Julie rated it it was amazing
I am an English teacher. Poetry is not my favorite genre, nor is it in the top five. Come to think of it, I don't enjoy poetry in the least bit. So I read Poetry 180 at the suggestion of one of my colleagues, and I was definitely hooked. Billy Collins is amazing. The poetry is rich in figurative elements and poetry terms I teach to prepare seniors for the AP test, yet is accessible for even my struggling readers at the freshmen level. The poems are interesting and make for great class discussion ...more
Liz VanDerwerken
Jun 23, 2016 Liz VanDerwerken rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Poetry 180 is a wonderful anthology of contemporary poems, and one which I would definitely revisit. This would be a good introductory collection to anyone wanting to read more poetry, but who is not sure where to start. As Billy Collins states in the introduction, "The idea behind the printed collection...was to assemble a generous selection of short, clear, contemporary poems...—poems whose injection of pleasure is immediate."
Dec 27, 2009 Nancy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, anthology
Collins is a master poet! I love his humor and imagination--how he takes ordinary every day happenings and objects and enhances them with poetic expression. In this volume he selects some of his favorite poets, including an old school mate of mine from Indiana University, Dean Young, an accomplished poet in his own right. I read this book cover to cover three years ago, but keep it on a handy shelf to refer to often.
May 05, 2010 Rob rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, read-2010, owned
The "turning back to poetry" is a wonderful idea. I love that he targets the book toward high schoolers and encouraged them to read just one contemporary poem for each day of the school year. It's a little effort that can really go a long way. He features some great poets as well, i.e. Charles Simic, Lucille Clifton, Galway Kinnell, and Sharon Olds. Definitely recommend for high schoolers, or anyone interested in casually reading poetry.
Texx Norman
Feb 05, 2011 Texx Norman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I lent my copy out and never got it back. Ten years ago I was teaching high school English and shared poems from this book most days. The kids who thought they hated poetry found day after day that there were a whole lot of poems they loved. This book also sent me on a search to buy the books of many of these poets.
Jul 20, 2007 Margie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: favorites, poetry
A truly excellent anthology of modern verse. Collins selected poetry that was a) modern and b) accessible. Originally designed to be used as a poem-a-day program for high schools (Collins's laureate program), this collection could really help turn on younger readers to poetry.
May 02, 2009 Davelowusa rated it it was amazing
This is a great book of poetry to enjoy. Not to dissect and lose sleep over. To enjoy. To find something you relate to. To love the sound of a line. And then to move on from.

Wouldn't it be nice if English teachers taught poetry that way?
Mary Christine Delea
Sep 03, 2008 Mary Christine Delea rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
A very diverse poetry anthology, and a great book for new readers of poetry and us "old" readers as well.
Jun 27, 2011 Victoria rated it really liked it
Really great collection of poetry. I found I was inspired by quite a few of them. I even got a couple of story ideas from it. Who said poetry isn't relevant anymore?
Bryan Neuschwander
Oct 14, 2016 Bryan Neuschwander rated it liked it
It is not the worst poetry anthology I have read.
Feb 10, 2015 carla rated it really liked it
This was an excellent collection of poems. As in any collection of this nature, you're bound to find a few things you like better/worse than others. That said, I appreciate the diverse styles and voices included.

My favorite poems (noted as much for myself as for others) in order as they appear in this collection:

Poem #7 Leanne O'Sullivan- The Cord
This is such a great window into a teenager's life on the phone and the appreciation for how her mother let her be. One of my top three from the book,
Jan 27, 2011 Ayaz rated it liked it
On forgetting

I couldn’t find the book. Here I was in a hotel room past midnight. I should already have felt the lines of the pages that can cut or comfort you, or the reassurance of a spine of a book, even the slick of the cover page. So I dumped the duffle bag on the bed and in the midst of the ordinary (shirts, a tie, a bottle of red, underwear, etc.), I saw a book. It wasn't Cutting for Stone (I thought I had packed for my business trip). Instead, it was poetry 180 (billed as accessible poetr
Janet Veil
Apr 03, 2015 Janet Veil rated it it was ok
I'm not a big fan of the selections. I understand what Billy Collins was doing but it didn't suit my preferences. I did however love:

On Not Flying to Hawaii by Alison Lutterman

I could be the waitress
in the airport restaurant
full of tired cigarette smoke and unseeing tourists.
I could turn into the never-noticed landscape
hanging identically in all the booths
or the customer behind the Chronicle
who has been giving advice about stock portfolios for forty years.
I could be his mortal weariness,
his disc
Sep 02, 2010 Miriam marked it as to-read
Shelves: poetry
So far I only know Tom Wayman's contribution to this collection:

Did I miss anything?

Nothing. When we realized you weren't here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours

Everything. I gave an exam worth
40 percent of the grade for this term
and assigned some reading due today
on which I'm about to hand out a quiz
worth 50 percent

Nothing. None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
Barbara M
Feb 26, 2016 Barbara M rated it it was amazing
Shelves: anthology, poetry
The first several pages are an introduction to the book by Billy Collins. Collins explains that, as the Poet Laureate, he wanted to find a way to get more people, especially young people, to be exposed to poetry. He created a web page at the Library of Congress for poems for 180 days of the school year with the hopes that schools would read a poem a day to the students. He wanted to have poems that are not obscure, poems that people could “get” on first hearing. This is the print version which i ...more
Jessica Moore
Feb 22, 2015 Jessica Moore rated it really liked it
Shelves: yal
I love poetry, so I was surprised I did not know about this initiative (poems listed online for every day of the school year to reinsert poetry back into American life). When I consider what I was doing at the time it occurred (having my first baby and juggling life as an adult) I guess I shouldn’t be so shocked.

The poems in this anthology are amazing! The first one I read was #13 “Did I Miss Anything?” by Tom Wayman. It resonates with me as a teacher because I hear that question multiple times
Garoosh Barbarus Lacroix
Apr 24, 2016 Garoosh Barbarus Lacroix rated it did not like it
What a gigantic crock of sh*t. If I were still living in Cuba, I'd have 180 guaranteed sheets to wipe my ass with.

I honestly do not understand what is the problem with contemporary poetry and poets. Contemporary Poets have turned deaf to lyricism, have abandoned any and all classical conventions and in their place instituted a diseased form of free verse. They have adopted a bland pen and killed the quill, and grossly promote the ritual sacrifice of anything that rhymes.

I blame editors more tha
Jul 18, 2007 Carlyn rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who think they hate poetry
Shelves: poetry
Oodles of people think they hate poetry, and why not when school most often starts us chronologically, with the "classics--" Shakespeare, Byron, Shelly--what normal 9th-grader is going to relate to Byron??? They go cross-eyed trying to analyze something that looks like a foreign language and then avoid poetry for the rest of their lives.

Well, NO MORE! Poetry 180 is a perfect, accessible compilation of modern poetry in modern language filled with beautiful, creative simplicity.

The Poetry 180 prog
Cathleen Ash
Tom Wayman's "Did I Miss Anything?" speaks directly to the heart of the adolescent experience in school - as seen by a teacher. The book starts off with a poem by Collins himself: "Introduction to Poetry." Poets and teachers will both gain a laugh (or cry!) from reading this piece. About half of the poems in this book are great for young adults, addressing a lot of learning, school-type stuff in unpredictable ways. Other poems in the book (for example, "In Praise of Bic Pens") might require some ...more
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William A. ("Billy") Collins is an American poet. He served two terms as the Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. In his home state, Collins has been recognized as a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library (1992) and selected as the New York State Poet for 2004.
More about Billy Collins...

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