The first time I heard Billy Collins, I was listening to The Prairie Home Companion. Garrison Keillor had Billy read his poem, "The Lanyard." I instantly fell in love with that poem. It transported me back to the summer camp craft house. He made me feel things I had not felt since childhood.
Whale Day is Billy's most recent collection of 60 poems. His poetry is both accessible and approachable. There are poems about everyday occurrences (“Sleeping on My Side," "Talking to Myself"), travel ("Hawaii," "Dublin"), and poems that make me think he's inside my mind ("Architecture at 3:30 A.M.," "Air Sax"). While there are concepts and emotions to unpack in every poem, the poetry in Whale Day is approachable, understandable, and enjoyable at face value. There is a lightness in the writing, but there is also a depth that gets right to the heart of the emotion.
Mortality is clearly on his mind more than I remember in his other books ("On the Deaths of Friends," "Anniversary"). But, frankly it is more in my mind. I suppose as we age we think and talk more openly about our own mortality. But, don't get me wrong, there is plenty of life in this book, too ("The Floors of Bonnard," "Contemporary Americans").
The book opens with a poem called “The Function of Poetry.” It is a fitting end to this review,
“...the function of poetry is to remind methat there is much more to lifethan what I am usually doingwhen I’m not reading or writing poetry."
Well said, Billy Collins.
My first reaction to this book was, "I wish I read this when it was originally published!" Reading this in 2011 would have saved me years of learning the systematic process of new product, program, and campaign experimentation. This is something I largely did on my own - itself a form of experimentation...
The Lean Startup is an excellent introduction to building experiments using value hypotheses and growth hypotheses. The book illustrates how to gather feedback from experiments, called "validated learning." It is this validated learning that provide the true "ah-ha" moments as well as drive the speed of development - "The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else." The book gives specific suggestions on how to start building a validated learning cycle in your business today, whether you are a startup or a large enterprise.
My only criticism of The Lean Startup is the epilogue. This final chapter feels out of place, as if it was written as a stand-alone research project about Frederick Winslow Taylor. Mr. Reis does bring it all home at the end, but could have done so without the lesson on Taylor.
For anyone that is responsible for creating, building, or launching a products, campaigns, or programs within any size company, The Lean Startup is a must read.