Aimless, Yet Straight to the Heart 

To lift an old line from Muhammad Ali, Billy Collins floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee -- though the sting in this poet's case delivers pleasure, not a sore jaw. Collins is our reigning champ of the light step. In an entertainment/arts culture that often prizes histrionics and heavy breathing above more modest expression, the deftness, whimsy and judicious understatement that characterize his verse pull a large audience; these are the qualities that must endear this two-term United States Poet Laureate to so many average readers who eschew the sterner stuff of much modern poetry. At the same time, Collins' omnipresent artfulness and formal elegance ensure his esteem among more committed arbiters of literary taste. Tonight at 7 p.m. at St. Louis County Library headquarters (1640 South Lindbergh Boulevard, Frontenac; 314-994-3300 or, you can hear Collins read from his latest collection, Aimless Love. Tickets are $16 to $20 through, and admission includes one paperback copy of the book. The event is sponsored by Left Bank Books.
Sat., Nov. 1, 7 p.m., 2014

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