Get SAL Updates
Donate Today
Shopping Cart
About Us
SAL Board
SAL Staff
Press Room
Event Archives
Contact Us
Event Archives
Return to List
Billy Collins Billy Collins SUN, MAY 22, 2011, 7:30 PM Benaroya Hall \ S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium Sponsored by Open Books: A Poem Emporium  
Ticket holders from the original November event are welcome to this Billy Collins presentation free of charge. If you have your original ticket, used or unused, it will gain you admission on May 22nd. If you need a replacement ticket, contact our Box Office at:
This Link Requires Javascript.
“Billy Collins writes lovely poems...Limpid, gently and consistently startling, more serious than they seem, they describe all the worlds that are and were and some others besides.”  — John Updike
Billy Collins was born in New York City in 1941. He received a B.A. in English from Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1963 and his M.A. in English and a Ph.D. in romantic poetry from the University of California, Riverside in 1965 and 1971, respectively.
Collins was propelled into the literary spotlight when the collection Questions about Angels was selected by poet Ed Hirsch for the 1990 National Poetry Series. He followed with The Art of Drowning (1995) and Picnic, Lightning (1998). In 1997 he released a recording of his poems, The Best Cigarette. He has written a collection of haikus and edited Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems about Birds, with paintings by David Allen Sibley, among other anthologies of contemporary poetry. Collins was also guest editor of The Best American Poetry 2006. "We seem to always know where we are in a Billy Collins poem, but not necessarily where he is going,” said poet Stephen Dunn, “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."
Collins has been called “the class clown in the schoolhouse of American poetry” for his humorous, welcoming style and broad appeal. Both critically acclaimed and tremendously popular, his last three collections have broken sales records for poetry. Collins served as the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2001 to 2003. “When words are put together in fresh ways,” he has said, “there is a pleasure-giving quality in language, which brings a release of endorphins.” The New York Times finds, “much of Collins's work is not just deft and cheerful but possessing of a slyly complicated intellectual tone.”
Collins is a Guggenheim fellow, a New York Public Library “Literary Lion,” and a frequent guest on National Public Radio and A Prairie Home Companion. Included among the honors he has received are fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. He is a Professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York, where he has taught for over 30 years.

Selected Work
The Trouble with Poetry: And Other Poems (2005)
Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry (editor, 2003)
Nine Horses (2002)
Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems (2001)
Picnic, Lightning (1998)
The Best Cigarette (audio recording, 1997)
The Art of Drowning (1995)
Questions About Angels (1991)
The Apple That Astonished Paris (1988)

Interview with Billy Collins (Alexandra van de Kamp, Terra Incognita)

The Way We Live Now: Questions for Billy Collins (The New York Times, February 2003)

Review of The Trouble With Poetry (The New York Times, January 2006)
Food: Eat, Memory: The Fish by Billy Collins (The New York Times, November 2007)
Powell’s Books interview with Billy Collins (, January 2004)
Yusef Komunyakaa
Poetry Series, Poet Yusef Komunyakaa chats with a Writers in the Schools student reader. Photo by Libby Lewis