University of Vermont

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins to Appear at UVM

Billy Collins
Billy Collins. (Photo: Steven Kovich)

Billy Collins, two-term poet laureate of the United States, serving from 2001-2003, will read from his own work and discuss poets and poetry in modern American life on Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. in Ira Allen Chapel. The event is free and open to the public, with seating on a first-come, first-served basis.

Collins is the author of many collections of poetry including The Art of Drowning; Picnic, Lightening; Sailing Alone Around the Room; and Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems, forthcoming in October. He has also edited several anthologies, including Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry.

The most popular poet in America, according to the New York Times, Collins, whose work is known for its accessibility and dry wit, is a strong proponent of enriching public life with poetry. “When you get a poem on a billboard or on the radio or on a cereal box or whatever,” Collins quipped at a TED talk last year, “it happens to you so suddenly that you don’t have time to deploy your anti-poetry reflector shields that were installed in high school.”

Among his many appointments, Collins is a Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College in the Bronx, where he has taught for more than 30 years. He has also taught and served as visiting writer at Sarah Lawrence College. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Collins has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, been selected as Poetry magazine’s poet of the year and was the first recipient of the annual Mark Twain prize for humor in poetry.

Collins’ appearance is a collaboration between the Vermont Humanities Council and the University of Vermont, with funding from the Office of the President, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of English and the Writers Workshop.