U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins
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.