Teen Volunteer Review: Whale Day

Boston Public Library's teen volunteer program has gone remote! As part of this program, local high schoolers will be sharing their thoughts on books, movies, and more on our blog. If you're looking for a poetry fix, check out local homeschooled high schooler Yaakov Aldrich's review of Whale Day below! 

Whale Day is the latest collection of poetry by Billy Collins. It features an introductory poem called "The Function of Poetry" followed by four organized sections of poetry. The book contains sixty poems all in all. Collins’ writing is accessible to anybody, without any prior poetry knowledge or experience. If you want to begin reading the work of Billy Collins, Whale Day is as good a place to start as any. The vocabulary of his poetry is simple, but the words and phrases create complex imagery and ideas that will resonate with any reader. As usual, Collins discusses a wide range of topics throughout Whale Day. These topics include poems like “Down on the Farm”, “Anniversary”, and “I Am Not Italian”. I think Billy Collins is one of the most famous writers of our time, and for good reason. 

This is the second book of his that I have read, (the first being Sailing Alone Around the Room) and in my opinion, Whale Day represented a drop in quality. While the poems in the book were by no means bad, I thought they were a little more generic and a little more bland. In fact, some of the poems felt like Collins was trying to imitate himself, and not doing a very good job. Of course, the worst Billy Collins poem is still very, very good, so by all means read Whale Day. His style of writing is fresh and engaging, so if you’re an experienced poetry fan, you’ll be happy to discover a new voice, and if you’re just starting to read the genre, you’ll love his short, straightforward poems. The cover art is beautiful, too! Whale Day is truly a book for everyone.