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May 29 , 2008

The Apple That Astonished Paris



In 1988 the University of Arkansas Press published Billy Collins’s The Apple That Astonished Paris, his “first real book of poems,” as he describes it in a new, delightful preface written expressly for this new printing to help celebrate both the Press’s twenty-fifth anniversary and this book, one of the Press’s all-time best sellers. In his usual witty and dry style, Collins writes, “I gathered together what I considered my best poems and threw them in the mail.” After “what seemed like a very long time” Press director Miller Williams, a poet as well, returned the poems to him in the “familiar self-addressed, stamped envelope.” He told Collins that there was good work here but that there was work to be done before he’d have a real collection he and the Press could be proud of: “Williams’s words were more encouragement than I had ever gotten before and more than enough to inspire me to begin taking my writing more seriously than I had before.” This collection includes some of Collins’s most anthologized poems, including “Introduction to Poetry,” “Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House,” and “Advice to Writers.” Its success over the years is testament to Collins’s talent as one of our best poets, and as he writes in the preface, “this new edition . . . is a credit to the sustained vibrancy of the University of Arkansas Press and, I suspect, to the abiding spirit of its former director, my first editorial father.”
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