(born William James Collins) is an American poet, appointed as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. He is a Distinguished Professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York and is the Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute, Florida. Collins was recognized as a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library (1992) and selected as the New York State Poet for 2004-2006.
Collins was born in New York City to William and Katherine Collins. Katherine Collins was a nurse who stopped working to raise the couple's only child. Mrs. Collins had the ability to recite verses on almost any subject, which she often did, and ... more »
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Billy Collins Poems
The name of the author is the first to go followed obediently by the title, the plot, the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
Introduction To Poetry
I ask them to take a poem and hold it up to the light like a color slide
Another Reason Why I Don't Keep A Gun In...
The neighbors' dog will not stop barking. He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark that he barks every time they leave the house. They must switch him on on their way out.
On Turning Ten
The whole idea of it makes me feel like I'm coming down with something, something worse than any stomach ache or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
You are the bread and the knife, The crystal goblet and the wine... -Jacques Crickillon
Smokey the Bear heads into the autumn woods with a red can of gasoline and a box of wooden matches.
I Ask You
What scene would I want to be enveloped in more than this one, an ordinary night at the kitchen table, floral wallpaper pressing in,
Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes
First, her tippet made of tulle, easily lifted off her shoulders and laid on the back of a wooden chair.
As sure as prehistoric fish grew legs and sauntered off the beaches into forests working up some irregular verbs for their first conversation, so three-year-old children
Today I pass the time reading a favorite haiku, saying the few words over and over.
You know the parlor trick. wrap your arms around your own body and from the back it looks like someone is embracing you
I Chop Some Parsley While Listening To A...
And I start wondering how they came to be blind. If it was congenital, they could be brothers and sister, and I think of the poor mother brooding over her sightless young triplets.
In most self-portraits it is the face that dominates: Cezanne is a pair of eyes swimming in brushstrokes, Van Gogh stares out of a halo of swirling darkness, Rembrant looks relieved as if he were taking a breather
Sometimes the notes are ferocious, skirmishes against the author raging along the borders of every page in tiny black script.
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The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,
as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.
Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,
something else is slipping ...