Billy Collins

Billy Collins

Past Event: Tuesday, January 13, 2004

At Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

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Sponsored by Gull Industries.

Billy Collins describes poetry as “the only surviving history we have of human emotion.” The most popular poet in America today, Collins was appointed the United States Poet Laureate for 2001 to 2003.

He writes comic and graceful poems that capture ordinary life, but never lose their sense of wonder, often leading the reader into unanticipated territory. Determined to make poetry a part of everyday life, Collins created Poetry 180, a project for students that provides a poem each day during the school year on the Library of Congress web site. The poems are meant to be read aloud and enjoyed; Collins’ hope is to convey the pleasures of poetry by cutting through its perceived inaccessibility. A New York Public Library “Literary Lion” and Guggenheim Fellow, Collins is an entertaining speaker who attracts diverse audiences from coast to coast. “His poems—witty, playful and beautifully formed—bump up against the deepest human mysteries,” writes poet Edward Hirsch.

Collins has published seven collections of poems, including Questions About Angels (1991), The Art of Drowning (1995), and most recently, Nine Horses (2002). An anthology, Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry, was published in 2003. Collins is a professor of English at Lehman College, where he has taught for more than thirty years. He lives in Somers, New York.

From Nine Horses: Poems (2002)

Today

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

 

Selected WorkNine Horses (2002)Sailing Alone Around the Room (2001)Picnic, Lightening (1998)The Art of Drowning (1995)Questions About Angels (1991)Pokerface (1977)

LinksBilly Collins: The Academy of American PoetryResources on Billy Collins: appearances, poetry, biographyPBS interview with Billy Collins

Event Details

Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

200 University Street
Seattle, WA 98101

View directions.

Transportation & Parking

This event will be held in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, the largest event space at Benaroya Hall. 

Benaroya Hall is located at 200 University Street, directly across Second Avenue from the Seattle Art Museum. The public entrance to Benaroya Hall is along Third Avenue.

  • From Southbound I-5
    Take the Union Street exit (#165B). Continue onto Union Street and proceed approximately five blocks to Second Avenue. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound I-5
    Exit left onto Seneca Street (exit #165). Proceed two blocks and turn right onto Fourth Avenue. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Union Street. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Seneca Street exit and move into the left lane. Turn left onto First Avenue and proceed one block. Take the next right (at the Hammering Man sculpture) onto University Street. Continue up the hill two blocks to Third Avenue. Turn left onto Third Avenue. Continue to the next block and turn left onto Union Street. Make the next left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Southbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Denny Way/Downtown exit. Keep right and cross over Denny Way onto Wall Street. Proceed approximately five blocks and turn left onto Second Avenue. Continue south on Second Avenue approximately eight blocks. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.

By Bus
Benaroya Hall is served by numerous bus routes. Digital reader boards along Third Avenue display real-time bus arrival information. For details and trip planning tools, call Metro Rider Information at 206.553.3000 (voice) or 206.684.1739 (TDD), or visit Metro online. The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, served by bus and light rail, has a stop just below the Hall (University Street Station).

Parking
The 430-car underground garage at Benaroya Hall provides direct access from the enclosed parking area into the Hall via elevators leading to The Boeing Company Gallery. Enter the garage on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street. Maximum vehicle height is 6’8″. Blink charging stations are available for electric vehicles. The event rate is $16.

Parking is also available at:

  • The Cobb Building (enter on University Street between Third and Fourth avenues).
  • The Russell Investments Center (enter on Union Street between First and Second avenues).
  • There are many other garages within a one-block radius of Benaroya Hall, along with numerous on-street parking options.

Accessibility

All of our venues have accessible seating and listening devices available. Please contact us at sal@lectures.org or 206.621.2230 x10 for more details and to let us know you’re coming so we can better accommodate your needs.