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Billy Collins

Billy Collins is a two-term United States Poet Laureate, New York State Poet, and the author of nine collections of poetry, including his latest, Horoscopes for the Dead. A number of Collins’s inimitable poems engage with iconic poets of the past, frequently to humorous effect, including “Taking Off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes,” “Memorizing Donne’s ‘The Sun Rising,'” and “Reading an Anthology of Chinese Poems of the Sung Dynasty, I Pause to Admire the Length and Clarity of their Titles.” “What inspires poetry is poetry,” Collins has said, explaining that in the works of other writers he finds the “gates of departure for my own flights.”

Called “the most popular poet in America” by the New York Times , Collins has led an unflagging career as a poet and public figure, and has introduced countless readers around the world to new poets and poetry. With the Library of Congress, he established Poetry 180, a teaching aid for high school students founded on the belief that “poems can inspire and make us think about what it means to be a member of the human race.”

Collins has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, The National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation, and has won the Mark Twain Prize, the Bess Hokin Prize, the Frederick Bock Prize, the Oscar Blumenthal Prize, and the Levinson Prize—all awarded by Poetry magazine. In 1992 he was chosen by the New York Public Library to serve as a “Literary Lion.”

Today, Collins is a Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College (CUNY) and a Distinguished Fellow at the Winter Park Institute of Rollins College. He divides his time between New York and Winter Park, Florida.

Online Resources

Audio: Collins @ KWLS 2003 and KWLS 2010
Interview in Littoral: “The Pleasures of Disorientation”
TED Talk: ‘Everyday moments, caught in time’
on E.E. Cummings for Slate
Poetry Foundation profile
Guernica interview

Selected Bibliography

Horoscopes for the Dead (2011)
Ballistics (2008)
The Trouble with Poetry (2005)
Sailing Alone around the Room: New and Selected Poems (2001)
The Apple That Astonished Paris (1988)
Pokerface (1977)