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 SRO, and his audience - enlarged tremendously by his
appearances on National Public Radio - includes people of all backgrounds and
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 many thousands of readers have opened with amazement and delight.
In the words of poet Ed Hirsch, Collins is "an American original - a metaphysical
poet with a funny bone."
Collins' many honors include NEA 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. He is currently professor of English at
Lehman College of the City University of New York.