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U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins

Billy Collins
Friday, October 20 at 8PM

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Billy Collins is an American phenomenon. No poet since Robert Frost has managed to combine high critical acclaim with such broad popular appeal. His work has appeared in a variety of periodicals including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The American Scholar, he is a Guggenheim fellow and a New York Public Library “Literary Lion.” 

His last three collections of poems have broken sales records for poetry. Billy Collins readings are usually standing room only, and his audience – enhanced tremendously by his appearances on National Public Radio – includes people of all backgrounds and age groups. There is no doubt that the poems themselves best explain this phenomenon.

The typical Collins poem opens on a clear and hospitable note but soon takes an unexpected turn; poems that begin in irony may end in a moment of lyric surprise. No wonder Collins sees his poetry as “a form of travel writing” and considers humor “a door into the serious.” It is a door that many thousands of readers have opened with amazement and delight. His most recent book of poetry is titled The Rain in Portugal and is also a New York Times bestseller.

As a result of the praise for his work, Billy Collins was appointed United States Poet Laureate 2001-2003.  In January 2004, he was named New York State Poet Laureate 2004-06. Throughout his distinguished career he has received numerous awards, and accolades.

To learn more about Billy Collins, visit the visit the Poetry Foundation.