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Encyclopedia > Billy Collins

William A. ("Billy") Collins (born March 22, 1941) is an American poet. He served two terms as the Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. In his home state, Collins has been recognized as a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library (1992) and selected as the New York State Poet for 2004. is the 81st day of the year (82nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... For other uses, see 1941 (disambiguation). ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress is appointed by the United States Librarian of Congress and earns a stipend of $35,000 a year. ... The New York Public Library (NYPL) is one of the leading public libraries of the world and is one of Americas most significant research libraries. ... The year 2004 in literature involved some significant events and new books. ...



William James "Billy" Collins was born in New York City on March 22, 1941 to William and Katherine Collins. He graduated with a bachelor's degree from the College of the Holy Cross in 1963 and received his doctorate from the University of California, Riverside. Not to be confused with Holy Cross College (Indiana) or other similarly named Holy Cross Colleges. ... The University of California, Riverside, commonly known as UCR or UC Riverside, is a public research university and one of 10 campuses of the University of California system. ...

Collins is a distinguished professor of English at Lehman College in the Bronx, where he joined the faculty in 1968 and has taught for over thirty years. Additionally, he is a founding Advisory Board member of the CUNY Institute for Irish-American Studies at Lehman College. He also has taught and served as a visiting writer at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. Collins was named U.S. Poet Laureate in 2001 and held the title until 2003. Collins served as Poet Laureate for the State of New York from 2004 until 2006. Lehman College is one of the constituent colleges of the City University of New York, USA. Founded in 1931 as the Bronx campus of Hunter College, the school became an independent college within the City University in 1968. ... The City University of New York (CUNY; acronym usually pronounced kyoo-nee or coo-nee), located in New York City, is the largest urban university in the United States, with more than 208,000 enrolled in degree programs and another 208,000 enrolled in adult and continuing education courses at... Sarah Lawrence College is a private liberal arts college located in metropolitan New York City, about a thirty-minute train ride north of Manhattan. ... Bronxville is a village in Westchester County, New York, United States, located 15 miles north of midtown Manhattan. ...

As U.S. Poet Laureate, Collins read his poem "The Names" [1] at a special joint session of the United States Congress on September 6, 2002, held to remember the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Type Bicameral Houses Senate House of Representatives President of the Senate President pro tempore Dick Cheney, (R) since January 20, 2001 Robert C. Byrd, (D) since January 4, 2007 Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, (D) since January 4, 2007 Members 535 plus 4 Delegates and 1 Resident Commissioner Political... is the 249th day of the year (250th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Also see: 2002 (number). ... On September 11, 2002, various memorials and services across the world marked the first anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the greatest number being in Manhattan. ...

In 1997, he recorded The Best Cigarette (ISBN 0-9658873-0-8), a collection of 34 of his poems that would become a bestseller. In 2005, the CD was re-released under a Creative Commons license, allowing free, non-commercial distribution of the recording. He also recorded two of his poems for the audio versions of Garrison Keillor's collection Good Poems (2002, ISBN 0-670-03126-7). In 2005, he recorded "Billy Collins Live: A Performance at the Peter Norton Symphony Space" in New York City. Collins was introduced by the actor, Bill Murray. The Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative work available for others legally to build upon and share. ... Garrison Keillor (born Gary Edward Keillor on August 7, 1942 in Anoka, Minnesota) is an American author, storyteller, humorist, columnist, musician, satirist, and radio personality. ...

Over the years, Poetry magazine has awarded him several prizes in recognition of poems they publish. During the 1990s, Collins won five such prizes. The magazine also selected him as "Poet of the Year" in 1994. In 2005 Collins was the first annual recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for Humor in Poetry, bestowed by the Poetry Foundation (Poetry Magazine). He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation in 1993, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Poetry, published in Chicago, Illinois, is one of the leading monthly poetry journals in the English-speaking world. ... For the band, see 1990s (band). ... See also: 1993 in literature, other events of 1994, 1995 in literature, list of years in literature. ... This article is about scholarship (noun) and scholarship as a form of financial aid. ... The National Endowment for the Arts is a United States federally funded program that offers support and funding for projects that exhibit artistic excellence. ... Guggenheim Fellowships are awarded annually by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts. ... Year 1993 (MCMXCIII) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full 1993 Gregorian calendar). ...


Although Collins's poetry is often compared to that of Robert Frost, it is marked by a rejection of forms such as the sonnet, sestina, and villanelle. For instance, his poem "Sonnet" begins "All we need is fourteen lines, well, thirteen now", and continues in this vein; the "sonnet" is fourteen lines, but does not rhyme and is not, until the final line, iambic pentameter. He invented the poetic form of the paradelle as a hoax to parody the villanelle, using his mock "Paradelle for Susan"; the paradelle is emblematic of his rejection of formal poetry. The first paradelle anthology, The Paradelle, edited by Theresa M. Welford, was published in January 2006, showing that the inventiveness of Collins, no matter the purpose, serves to inspire other poets. Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was an American poet. ... The term sonnet derives from the Provençal word sonet and the Italian word sonetto, both meaning little song. ... The sestina is a highly structured form of poetry, invented by the Provençal troubadour Arnaut Daniel the late 12th century. ... Look up Villanelle in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Insert non-formatted text hereIambic pentameter is a meter in poetry. ... A paradelle is a modern poetic form which was invented by United States Poet Laureate Billy Collins as a parody of the villanelle. ...

In his work, Collins has also spoken out against obtuse constructions and over-interpretation of poems. Most of Collins's work is clear and understandable to lay readers and occasionally critical of poets writing only for other poets or academics, which is not to say that Collins's work is simplistic or lacking in artistic merit. Collins shares his occasionally critical outlook of poets who write only for other poets with his successor as poet laureate, American poet Ted Kooser. Ted Kooser (b. ...

As poet laureate, Collins published a collection of poems called Poetry 180, a collection of 180 poems (one for each day of the typical school year) that he considers appropriate poetry with which to introduce high schoolers to the form. Collins is in the center of the movement to re-popularize poetry among adolescent readers. Collins believes that exposing high schoolers to clear, meaningful contemporary poetry will whet their appetites for poetry and help them see that it is not boring or inaccessible. Collins now has two Poetry 180 collections, the first of which he opens with his own poem "Introduction to Poetry," a poem that encourages enjoyment of poetry and discourages interpretation that would "tie the poem to a chair with rope/ and torture a confession out of it" or join those who "begin beating it with a hose/ to find out what it really means." He suggests that readers "water ski across the surface." [2]

Collins' poetry has often been called accessible, a term he dislikes, saying it suggests metaphorical ramps for "poetically handicapped people." He prefers the word "hospitable" for his poetry. In that vein, he believes that a good poem is one that starts out simple and welcoming and then shifts into more complex themes. He calls this "travel poetry," referring to mental rather than physical travel.

Critical reception

Many readers have remarked on Collins's unusual popularity for a poet. Some poets and reviewers criticize Collins for being too "accessible," meaning that his readers connect with and understand his poems. Those critical of Collins's poetry are of a mind to believe that if a poem can be read and understood by just anyone, surely it must not be a quality poem. To be high art, they believe, means that a poem must reserve some part of itself to the privileged few, something Collins's work does not do.

On the other hand, a number of journals have reviewed Collins's work far more favorably. According to Entertainment Weekly, "Billy Collins is a modern-day Robert Frost. In plain language free from pretension, he takes ordinary subjects (summer-camp crafts, time zones), and plunders their insides until the inner mystery pops out." [3] Entertainment Weekly (sometimes abbreviated EW) is a magazine published by Time Inc. ... Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was an American poet. ...


  • (from 1999): As I'm writing, I'm always reader conscious. I have one reader in mind, someone who is in the room with me, and who I'm talking to, and I want to make sure I don't talk too fast, or too glibly. Usually I try to create a hospitable tone at the beginning of a poem. Stepping from the title to the first lines is like stepping into a canoe. A lot of things can go wrong.
  • (from 2004): Moving from the position of United States poet laureate to New York State poet laureate might seem like a demotion or a drop in rank to the military-minded. It might even appear that I am heading toward eventually being crowned laureate of my ZIP code. But in fact, it is very gratifying to be honored again as a representative of poetry, this time by my native state where I grew up — more or less — and continue to live.



  • The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems, (2005, ISBN 0-375-50382-X)
  • Nine Horses (2002, ISBN 0-375-50381-1), named a notable book of the year by the New York Times Book Review
  • Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems (2001, ISBN 0-375-50380-3), named a notable book of the year by the New York Times Book Review
  • Picnic, Lightning (1998, ISBN 0-8229-4066-3)
  • The Art of Drowning (1995, ISBN 0-8229-3893-6), which was a Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize finalist
  • Questions About Angels (1991, ISBN 0-8229-4211-9), the winner (two years later) of the National Poetry Series competition
  • The Apple That Astonished Paris (1988, ISBN 1-55728-023-1)
  • Video Poems (1980)
  • Pokerface (1977)

Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... // Frank Bidart: Star Dust, one of the New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year[1] Dan Chiasson: Natural History: Poems, one of the New York Times 100 Notable books of the year[1] Jorie Graham: Overlord: Poems, one of the New York Times 100 Notable books of the... // March 16: Authorities in Saudi Arabia arrested and jailed poet Abdul Mohsen Musalam and fired a newspaper editor following the publication of Musalams poem The Corrupt on Earth that criticized the states Islamic judiciary. ... // December 9–10 — Professor John Basinger, 67, performed, from memory, John Miltons Paradise Lost at Three Rivers Community-Technical College in Norwich, Connecticut, a feat that took 18 hours. ... Picnic, Lightning is a collection of poetry by Billy Collins. ... // Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse, (Knopf) ; named a notable book of the year by The New York Times Book Review Ted Hughes, Birthday Letters, (Farrar, Straus & Giroux); named a notable book of the year by The New York Times Book Review Mark Strand, Blizzard of One... // February 16 — Announcement that 300 poems by S.T. Coleridge have been discovered February 17 — Sothebys announces discovery of four Walt Whitman notebooks John Ashbery, Can You Hear, Bird? Odysseus Elytis, West of Sadness (Δυτικά της λύπης) (his last book) Carl Rakosi, Poems, 1923-1941 Richard Howard edits The Best American Poetry... Established in 1975, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize is (currently) a $25,000 award recognizing the most outstanding book of poetry published in the United States in the previous year. ... // Forward Poetry Prize created John Ashbery, Flow Chart W.H. Auden, Collected Poems Gwendolyn Brooks, Children Coming Home Billy Collins, Questions About Angels (ISBN 0-8229-4211-9), the winner of the National Poetry Series competition in 1993 Wendy Cope, Serious Concerns Odysseus Elytis, The Elegies of Oxopetras (Τα Ελεγεία της Οξώπετρας) Howard Nemerov... The National Poetry Series is an American literary awards program. ... // Joseph Brodsky, To Urania Federico García Lorca, Poeta en Nueva York first translation into English as A Poet in New York this year (written in 1930, first published posthumously in 1940) Philip Larkin, Collected Poems Michael Palmer, Sun The New British Poetry, a poetry anthology, jointly edited by Gillian... // Mark Jarman and Robert McDowell started the small magazine The Reaper to promote narrative and formal poetry. ... // British publication Gay News successfully prosecuted in the United Kingdom for blasphemy and libel for publishing James Kirkups The Love that Dares to Speak its Name Samuel Beckett, Collected Poems in English and French Elizabeth Bishop, Geography III, which includes In the Waiting Room, The Moose, and the villanelle...

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Preceded by
Stanley Kunitz
11th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress
Succeeded by
Louise Glück
Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Wikiquote is one of a family of wiki-based projects run by the Wikimedia Foundation, running on MediaWiki software. ... Stanley Jasspon Kunitz /kju:nɪts/ (July 29, 1905 – May 14, 2006) was a noted American poet who served two years (1974–1976) as the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (a precursor to the modern Poet Laureate program), and served another year as United States Poet Laureate... The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress is appointed by the United States Librarian of Congress and earns a stipend of $35,000 a year. ... Louise Elisabeth Glück (born April 22, 1943) is an American poet. ...

  Results from FactBites:
Billy Collins - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (777 words)
Billy Collins (born March 22, 1941) is an American poet who served two terms as the fourty-fourth Poet Laureate of the United States, from 2001 to 2003.
Collins is a distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College, City University of New York, where he taught from 1968 to 2001 and has remained a member of the faculty.
Despite being oft compared to Robert Frost, Collins' poetry is marked by a rejection of restrictive forms such as the sonnet and villanelle.
DRUNKEN BOAT #4 | SPRING 2002 (1210 words)
Collins may not be a very learned poet, but he is not kitsch; Collins is much less interesting than kitsch–he is strictly banal, he wants us to know how uncomfortably banal poetry is, and he does a very good job of making us not want to read poetry any more.
Billy Collins is a new development for workshop poetry because he has lowered the stakes.
Billy Collins’ poems deliver the quintessential New Age message: Relax, it’s OK to be yourself, the world is kind and gentle and mildly amusing and will eventually take care of you.
  More results at FactBites »



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