Billy Collins

Billy Collins

Past Event: Sunday, May 22, 2011

At Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

Poetry Icon


Sponsored by Open Books: A Poem Emporium.

WE’RE BRINGING BILLY BACK! 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:

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 Angelswas 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.

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.

By Car

  • 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 I-5 via Westbound I-90
    Take the 2C exit for I-5 North. Follow signs for Madison Street/Convention Place and merge right onto Seventh Avenue. Turn left onto Madison Street. Proceed three blocks and turn right onto Fourth Avenue. Continue four 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.

By Public Transit (Bus & Light Rail)
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 light rail, has a stop just below the Hall (University Street Station).

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.


Open Captioning is an option for people who have hearing loss, where a captioning screen displaying the words that are spoken or sung is placed on stage. This option is present at every event at Benaroya Hall in our 2019/20 Season.

Assisted Listening Devices (ALDs) are devices that people with hearing loss use in conjunction with their hearing device (hearing aids or cochlear implants). Benaroya Hall has an infrared hearing system, which transmits sound by light beams. Headsets are available in The Boeing Company Gallery coat check and the Head Usher stations in both lobbies.

Sign Language Interpretation is available upon request for Deaf, DeafBlind, and hard of hearing individuals. To make a request for ASL interpretation, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10. Please note: we appreciate a two-week advance notice to allow us time to secure interpretation.

Wheelchair Accessible Seating and Accessible Restrooms are available in all sections at our venues, and our venues are fully accessible to ticket holders with physical mobility concerns. Guide and service dogs are also welcome. Among other features, Benaroya Hall has designated parking spaces adjacent to elevators in their parking garage. Elevators with Braille signage go to all levels within the Hall. A unisex restroom is also available. For more details on their accessibility features, click here.

We are pleased to offer these accessibility services at our venues, and they are provided at no additional cost to ticket holders. Please contact us with any questions and feedback about how we can be more accessible and inclusive.  Our Patron Services Manager is available at, or Monday-Thursday from 10:00am – 5:00pm, and Fridays from 10:00am – 1:00pm, at 206.621.2230×10.