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Billy Collins Writing Styles in The Afterlife

Billy Collins
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Address

A poem of address is directed towards a particular audience. In this case, the speaker addresses "you" in the first and last stanzas. This suggests that the "you" is the reader, but it is also the speaker himself, or at least another part of the speaker. By addressing the second person, the speaker can create a tone both distant and intimate and dramatize what is at root a lyric poem. Other poets who have used the second person for this effect successfully include Mark Strand, Margaret Gibson, and John Hollander.

Caricature

To caricature something is to distort or exaggerate its features. Most often, artists caricature the features of people rather than ideas. The portraits drawn by the late Al Hirschfeld, printed in The New York Times or magazines like Rolling Stone, display exaggerated facial features that distinguish his typically famous subjects. However, Collins caricatures the beliefs of various...

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Poetry for Students
The Afterlife from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.