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Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry

(Poetry 180)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  2,992 ratings  ·  211 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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Cricket Muse The collection is a mixture of topics with some being more relevant to sixth graders, yet the bulk of the collection is more designed for high school …moreThe collection is a mixture of topics with some being more relevant to sixth graders, yet the bulk of the collection is more designed for high school or college, even though Collins’ intent is school age, the poems are more directed to adult interests and experiences. Definitely provide the opportunity for the student to read and decide which poems are preferred. Think about this: we don’t eat everything at a buffet. And do if goes for poem anthologies.(less)

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Jun 03, 2008 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
Oct 27, 2008 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 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
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I read this book roughly in the way described in the preface, reading a few at a time and not trying to analyze them at all. I have to say, this has done much more for my poetry appreciation than having someone try to explain in depth the masterful construction of one single poem I don't really like. While most of these poems didn't do much for me, the fact that a few did makes me want to read more, and learn why they do. ...more
Jun 14, 2010 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
Jul 12, 2012 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
Evie Wasson
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's important to have context for this book.

"Poetry 180 is designed to make it easy for students to hear or read a poem on each of the 180 days of the school year. The poems were selected with the intended audience of high school students. They are intended to be listened to by all members of the school community through the end of daily announcements over the public address system. Poems can inspire and make us think about what it means to be a member of the human race. By just spending a fe
Feb 27, 2013 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!
M.J. Lau
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great collection of fairly modern poems -- ideal for secondary students
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Most of the poems are good. Some are really good! Lots of new ideas and perspectives to think about.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's hard for me to give any anthology five stars. I enjoyed many of the poens in this collection, there were a few that I found underwhelming. Some of my favorites include the following: The Panic Bird, by Robert Phillips; Ordinance on Arrival, by Naomi Lazard, and; What He Thpught, by Heather McHugh. ...more
Roxanne Russell
Jun 07, 2017 rated it liked it
My favs in this collection:
Aaron Fogel The Printer's Error
Nick Flynn Cartoon Physics, Part 1
David Berman Snow
Carol Ann Duffy Queen Herod
David Lehman June 11
David Clewell Vegetarian Physics
Joe Wenderoth My Life
Naomi Shihab Nye For Mohammad Zeus, Age 15
Sharon Olds The Quest
David Hilton In Praise of Bic Pens
Kaylin Haught God Says Yes to Me
Marie Howe How Many Times
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Fabulous collection with the feeling that Billy Collins is right there with you sharing these as you read on and on. Lots of new names to me (I'm shamefully uneducated in North American poetry) and quite a few old friends.

I wish the UK had a Billy Collins.
vicki honeyman
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A rather delightful anthology inspired by poet laureate Billy Collins and the Library of Congress's poem-a-day program, in which high school students around the country are read one poem a day during the 180 days of a semester. Published in 2003, this diverse collection was selected by Billy Collins to present short, clear contemporary poems which any listener could "get" on first hearing and reading. Featuring such poets as Marie Howe, Charles Bukowski, Robert Bly, Naomi Shibab Nye, and Mary Ru ...more
Bjorn Sorensen
Sep 09, 2009 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
Beth Casey
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Wonderful collection! Introduced me to unknown poets to pursue.
Sep 02, 2010 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
Apr 10, 2012 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 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
Apr 03, 2009 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 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
Dec 27, 2009 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 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, poetry, read-2010
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. ...more
Liz VanDerwerken
May 04, 2016 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." ...more
Texx Norman
Feb 05, 2011 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 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: poetry, favorites
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. ...more
May 02, 2009 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?
Christine Delea
Sep 02, 2008 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. ...more
Jun 20, 2011 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? ...more
R.K. Cowles
Aug 30, 2016 rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars
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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

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Poetry 180 (2 books)
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His Favorite Works of Poetry: The former poet laureate and Goodreads Choice Best Poetry Finalist for the collection Aimless Love offers his top five.
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