January 15, 2002
U.S. Poet Laureate Billy
Collins to Read at Smith College
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marti Hobbes, firstname.lastname@example.org
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.-The Poetry Center
at Smith College will host a reading by U.S. Poet Laureate Billy
Collins at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 6, in John M. Greene
Hall. The event is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible.
- Billy Collins is an American phenomenon.
Dubbed by The New York Times "the most popular poet in America,"
he is also the most visible, having just assumed the post of
poet laureate of the United States. Collins has built a rare
bridge of admiration for his work between serious literary folk
and poetry novitiates.
- No poet since Robert Frost has managed
to combine high critical acclaim with such broad popular appeal.
Collins' last three collections of poems have broken sales records
for poetry, even sparking a remarkable battle between publishers.
His readings are usually "standing room only," and
his audience-broadened significantly by his appearances on National
Public Radio-includes people of all backgrounds and age groups.
- Collins has published seven books
of poetry, including "Questions About Angels," "The
Art of Drowning" and "Picnic, Lightning." As
reflected in the title of his latest collection, "Sailing
Alone Around the Room," he sees his poetry as "a form
of travel writing" and considers humor "a door to the
serious." It is a door that thousands of readers have opened
with amazement and delight.
The poems themselves best explain this phenomenon. The typical
Collins poem opens on a clear and hospitable note but soon takes
an unexpected turn; poems that begin in irony may end in a moment
of lyric surprise. His work is full of "buried twinges,"
writes The New York Times. "What seems simple touches a
complex, and even somber, theme." According to poet Ed Hirsch,
Collins is "an American original-a metaphysical poet with
a funny bone."
- Collins' many honors include National
Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim fellowships and the title
of "Literary Lion" from the New York Public Library.
Born in New York City, he attended the College of the Holy Cross
and received his Ph.D. in romantic poetry from the University
of California at Riverside. Collins is currently professor of
English at Lehman College of the City University of New York.
- Collins' reading will be followed
by a bookselling and signing. For further information, call Cindy
Furtek in the Poetry Center office at (413) 585-4891 or Ellen
Doré Watson, director, at (413) 585-3368.