If, as William Blake insisted, “Opposition is True Friendship,” A. M. Juster and Billy Collins should be bosom buddies. The two poets are complete opposites, Juster a formalist, a classicist; Collins, a populist free-verser. But this hilarious collection brings them together as a comedy team, albeit Collins may chafe at having to play the straight man. After all, it is unmistakably Collins’s signature style that Juster has borrowed to create these poems. Nearly every line is a side-splitting punch line, and poor Billy Collins is the punching bag! Somehow I think that when he comes to, Collins will blurrily recognize his opponent and be elated: “Hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable, mon frère!”—for who else could have mimic’d his voice so precisely?
This is one of those rare occasions when both the original and the imitation are sui generis—like Jackie Gleason and Fred Flintstone!
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