Relax & Read: Sailing Alone Around the Room

27 Jan

After Friday’s post about my poetry and nonfiction writing classes, I received a few questions regarding reading other genres. For instance, Ed Raby Sr. (blogger about one man’s quest to apply Biblical Theology to life), asked “Poetry was something I never seemed to get into. Do you have recomendation for a person who does not like poetry? Other than Dr. Seuss?”

I think this is a great question, because it represents every person who has asked me similar questions about expanding their reading palate into other genres. Personally, I’ve studied screenwriting, poetry, fiction, and (now) nonfiction. Each time I begin a new genre, I learn essential elements to writing I never considered before.9780375755194

In this case, poetry has taught me to say less but mean more. Writing poems enhances writers’ abilities of creating symbolism and delicate yet powerful prose. So, if you’re thinking about trying poetry, I wanted to recommend one of my favorite poets: Billy Collins.

Personally, horoscopes for the dead is my favorite collection of his, but I think Sailing Alone Around the Room is more eclectic while retaining a simplistic charm.

You can read some of his poems for free here:

But here are my favorite quotes from Sailing Alone Around the Room:

“I can hear the library humming in the night, / a choir of authors murmuring insides their books” (Books)

“But all they want to do / is tie the poem to a chair with rope / and torture a confession out of it” (Introduction to Poetry)

“No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted / out of a love poem that you used to know by heart” (Forgetfulness)

“it moved into the future / like the sharp tip of a pen moving across an empty page.” (The Wires of the Night)

I hope you take the time to read some of his words (he writes A LOT about being a writer) and enjoy his words as much as I have. If not, I hope you take the opportunity to read some free poems (because they are all over the internet) and fall in love with their structure enough to embrace their elements into your writing style.


23 Responses to “Relax & Read: Sailing Alone Around the Room”

  1. Victor Terrien January 27, 2013 at 12:53 am #

    That is so funny! I just read Sailing Alone Around the Room (for the second time) today. I love Billy Collins!

  2. Liberty of Thinking January 27, 2013 at 2:37 am #

    Morning (at least from this end:-) Shannon,

    Thank you – as a short preamble- for visiting my blog, for leaving a Like and Following while leaving:-)
    I am glad to have finally been found, amongst some of my other precious followers, by someone whose face I can see -which speaks more about a blogger than a year’s texts-, and who is a writer, too…
    If you’ll honour me visiting my About, you’ll learn a bit more ’bout the “me” part of myself, in a rather academically and achievements oriented fashion, most of them being there to scare away the “followers” for click’s sake!
    I’ll start reading your writings and come back with what I’ve learned.
    And I don’t usually do this, but if you haven’t found him yet, you’ll probably love the poetry of Ronald A. Shields, too, to be found @poetryontherun
    Looking forward to reading you soon.

    Wishing you a day as bright as your dreams about the future of your creativity!

    Romulus (Rom)

  3. Libby January 27, 2013 at 4:19 am #

    I love Billy Collins verse. This book was on my Christmas list – but I didn’t get it! I’ll have to treat myself,

  4. picturemereading January 27, 2013 at 7:34 am #

    I do love poetry 🙂 Will check this out!

  5. Stefanie January 27, 2013 at 8:10 am #

    I always liked poetry, yet somehow I forget from time to time. Now it’s time to bring that love back to life, and this book might just do the trick

  6. hawleywood40 January 27, 2013 at 8:47 am #

    Thanks for the recommendation! I haven’t read much poetry since college, but his intrigues me.

  7. vintagekaren January 27, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    Love reading poetry! Mary Oliver and Donald Hall are two of my favs and Lynn Lifshin and Ted Hughes and….

  8. suddenlylostinwords January 27, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    We all should read more poetry. A great little book that I’ve enjoyed recently (within the last five years!) is “Honeybee” by Naomi Shihab Nye. I’ll check out your recommendation 🙂

  9. catbeenywriter January 27, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    Shannon, I just want to let you know I nominated your blog for the Inspiring Blog Awards. Check it out if you want to participate!
    – Catrina

  10. Cody January 27, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

    I love Billy Collins but I think ‘Horoscopes for the Dead’ was a bit of a nosedive for him. ‘Sailing Around the Room’ is a much stronger collection. And if you like Collins, you should check out Matthew Dickman, my personal favorite contemporary poets.

    • Shannon Thompson January 27, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

      As much of a contradiction this is going to sound like, I think “Sailing Alone Around the Room” is a stronger collection. (Much stronger) Not only does he have great works on almost every page, but most of them are relatable and understandable even for a novice poetry reader.
      But “horoscopes for the dead” has some of my favorite poems of his in them (among ones that, I agree, were very much a “nosedive.”) So that’s probably why I’d say I like it more. (Depends on the angle I suppose.)
      I’ll be sure to check out Matthew Dickman soon!

  11. MuseWriter January 28, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

    Your writing needs to be rewarded!

    Good luck in 2013! 🙂

  12. sonofwalt January 29, 2013 at 1:55 am #

    Excellent recommendation! I love Billy Collins. For folks who are not familiar with modern American Poetry he might sound prosy, because they’ve been conditioned to think that poetry must rhyme. But aside from that, I’ve had great luck gaining new poetry converts with a few good Billy Collins poems.

  13. Mike January 29, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    “poetry has taught me to say less but mean more” – exactly what I discovered Shannon. Limiting yourself to a form (Sonnet, Villanelle, whateva) brings out one’s optimum writing skills. Painful also, but gloriously gainful IF (sadly not ‘when’) successful.

  14. Derek Rizzo January 30, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    Love the way your explained poetry!

  15. Jonathan Caswell January 31, 2013 at 10:14 pm #

    Shannon—you could always send the author MY way…to BY THE MIGHTY MUMFORD, a poetry blog where the poet DOES demonstrate that God and spiritual things aren’t just for inside a church! 🙂

  16. Ed Raby Sr February 1, 2013 at 1:07 am #

    Thanks for the mention. Didn’t notice it till now. The author recomendation I will consider as the only real achilles heel to my expanding my reading ventures is cash. Blessings,

  17. Jennifer Barricklow February 1, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

    First: you’ve hit the poetry nail on the head with “say less but mean more.” Yes.
    Second: thank you for recommending Billy Collins, more of whose work I will now seek out
    Good writing to you!

  18. christinalay February 3, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    Thank you. I always appreciate finding a new (to me) poet. My personal favorite is Pablo Neruda.

  19. February 4, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

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    blog post, “Relax & Read: Sailing Alone Around the Room Shannon A Thompson”.

    Do you mind in the event I personallyimplement a few of your own ideas?
    Thanks for your effort -Sheryl


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