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Billy Collins, NY State PoetBILLY COLLINS

New York State Poet, 2004-2006

Award Ceremony, March 4, 2004
7:30 p.m. Page Hall 135 Western Avenue
followed by a joint reading with
NY State Author
Russell Banks

"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." Billy Collins

Billy Collins, former United States Poet Laureate for two consecutive terms (2001-2003), is one of America's best-loved and best-selling poets. No poet since Robert Frost has managed to combine high critical acclaim with such broad popular appeal. His 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. Author of seven collections, his poems are enjoyed by critics and readers alike for their plain language, friendly tone, intelligent humor, and profound observations about the meaning of everyday life.

Collins's poetry collections include Nine Horses: Poems (2002), Sailing Alone Around the Room (2001), Picnic, Lightning (1997), The Art of Drowning (1995, University of Pittsburgh Press), and Questions About Angels (1991), which won the National Poetry Series competition, and The Apple That Astonished Paris (1988.) His collections have broken national sales records for poetry. According to The New York Times, Billy Collins is one of a very few contenders for the title, "most popular poet in America."

In 1999, Random House reportedly signed Collins to a six-figure contract, a highly unusual sum in the world of poetry. The poet's next collection, Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems is due out in April 2001.

Collins is a featured guest on National Public Radio. His poetry has appeared in anthologies, textbooks, and a variety of periodicals, including Poetry, American Poetry Review, American Scholar, Harper's, Paris Review, and The New Yorker. His readings are usually SRO and his audience includes people of all backgrounds and age groups. His work has been featured in the Pushcart Prize anthology and The Best American Poetry for 1992, 1993, and 1997. He has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He has also won 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." For several years he has conducted summer poetry workshops in Ireland at University College Galway. For the past 30 years, he has been a professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York and is a visiting writer at Sarah Lawrence College.

Bill Collins first visited the NYS Writers Institute on December 7, 2000.

"Bill Collins's poetry is heartbreakingly beautiful. It is also wise, funny, and brilliant. My ten favorites keep shifting all the time. Ovid is in again, so is Billy Collins." Gerald Stern

"We seem to always know where we are in a Billy Collins poem, but not necessarily where he is going. I love to arrive with him at his arrivals. He doesn't hide things from us, as I think lesser poets do. He allows us to overhear, clearly, what he himself has discovered. These are wonderful poems, and he's one of our best poets." Stephen Dunn

"I have never before felt possessive about a poet, but I am fiercely glad that Billy Collins is ours--smart, his strings tuned and resonant, his wonderful eye looping over the things, events and ideas of the world, rueful, playful, warm-voiced, easy to love." Annie Proulx

"Billy Collins writes lovely poems--lovely in a way almost nobody's since Roethke's are. Limpid, gently and consistently startling, more serious than they seems, they describe all the worlds that are and were and some others besides." John Updike

"Mr. Collins is funny without being silly, moving without being silly, and brainy without being silly. If only he were silly, we should know how to 'place' him. But he is merely--merely!--funny, moving, brainy. That will have to do." Richard Howard

"The podium at New York's 92nd Street Y remains the absolute center of the universe of literary performance in America." — Billy Collins

Books by Billy Collins:

Questions About AngelsThe Best CigarettePicnic, Lightning






Previous Articles and Information:
Writers Online Magazine Article - Remarks
Writers Online Magazine Article
Steven Barclay Agency
Cortland Review
The Atlantic Monthly
Big Snap

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