Billy Collins, born William James Collins in 1941, is one of America’s most celebrated poets. He has won multiple awards and honors over his lifetime career as a poet, teacher, author, and anthologist.
Among his many accomplishments and bragging rights are these:
- In 1975, Collins founded The Mid-Atlantic Review with friend Michael Shannon.
- Served as the nation’s Poet Laureate from 2001 to 2003.
- Named New York’s State Poet for the term ranging from 2004 to 2006.
- Distinguished professor at Lehman College, part of City University of New York.
- Has published ten poetry collections, the last three breaking sales records for poetry.
- He has been compared to Robert Frost.
Personally, although I have a deep love for really good poetry, I had never heard of Billy Collins until recently. I was doing some research and came across ‘Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins’. I was floored. Here, in print, by a famous and celebrated national poet were my exact thoughts and feelings on poetry.
So often, when we hear the word ‘poetry’, we think of pages and pages of boring stanzas about love and Shakespearean phrases that are hard to decipher and understand for most. A lot of people are turned off from poetry because they’ve read something like what I’ve just described. In my early years as a writer I wrote drivel like that! I was only 8, but still. As I grew older, my poetry found a life and form of its own and though I loved it and every poem was my soul on paper, I found that most who loved ‘traditional poetry’ were not fans of my work.
My poetry is free form, sometimes parts of it rhyme and sometimes it doesn’t. It could be a metaphor for something, but most of the time, it is what it is and there is no hidden meaning or agenda. I’m a pretty straight forward girl, and so is my writing.
When I discovered Billy Collins, I devoured every poem of his I could find to read online. I was in love with his easy style, his free formed words and visions. I couldn’t believe that someone who wrote this way could be so famous for writing that way! His work is amazing. He is a truly gifted and passionate man and I am so lucky I found him. Or maybe his work found me.
If you haven’t yet heard of Billy Collins or read his work, I urge you to do so right away. In fact, there are some links to get you started at the end of this article. Read these two poems and if you’re not a fan from these, you never will be. You also have no soul, but that’s an issue for another discussion.
Collins is known for leading the reader into the poem with humor and nimbly twisting it somewhere in the middle, spitting you out at the end somewhere far from where you thought you’d be when you started the journey. If you read some of Billy’s work, leave me some comments and let me know what you thought. You can follow Billy on his Facebook page also, so make sure to check that out and give it a Like so you can read his work on a regular basis without any effort.
Billy Collins Links: