Billy Collins Facts: Read More About The Great American Poet | Kidadl

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William James Collins, or more popularly known as Billy Collins, was born on March 22, 1941, in Manhattan, New York City, USA.

Billy Collins is a very popular personality in the USA and all over the world for being a poet, a professor, a book author, and an anthologist. He has been called ‘the most popular poet in America’ by the New York Times.

Billy Collins grew up in Queens, New York City. He was a distinguished professor at the Lehman College of the City University of New York for several years but retired back in 2016. Today, Billy Collins is a professor at Stony Brook Southampton. His poetry is described as having a very plain language and an appreciation for the mundane things in life so as to make the reader think about their existence by observing everyday things. Billy Collins has been publishing his poetry since the '80s, but his critically acclaimed work' Questions About Angels', which was published in the early '90s is said to have brought him into the literary spotlight.

After reading about the selected poems by Billy Collins that are popular across the world, also check out William Faulkner facts and Bryson Tiller facts.

Fun Facts About Billy Collins

It has been said that Billy Collins was inspired by his mother, Katherine Collins, into the world of writing, literature, and poetry. Katherine was famous as she could recite verses on several subjects, which she did for her son, inculcating in him a passion for the literary world. Billy Collins wrote his first poem at the young age of 12 years.

In 1975, Billy Collins co-founded the Mid-Atlantic Review, along with his friend Michael Shannon. Billy Collins was appointed as the US poet laureate for two years. At the time when he was holding this position, he was asked to write a poem in 2002 in remembrance of the victims of the 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers and the World Trade Center.

Later on during his career, Billy Collins did two more poetry readings in the White House. Billy Collins had also appeared on TED Talks and has also been named as one of the top 100 speakers on the show, which led him to appear on TED for the second time. Billy Collins’ poetry sells out regularly to this day.

Facts About Billy Collins' Poems

Billy Collins’ poetry has been described by many as being relatable and thought-provoking, with a very profound depth to it. Billy Collins uses wit and humor to speak on serious and deep topics which makes the reader wonder about the meaning of the poetry and appreciate it at the same time.

Billy Collins’ journey as a poet started in the '70s when he started to write short poems for the famous Rolling Stone magazine. He later published this collection of poetry in a book named Pokerface in 1977. Billy Collins published two more collections in the '80s, but his work did not receive a lot of attention at that time. Billy Collins entered the literary spotlight after his manuscript for poetry called 'Questions About Angels' got selected for the National Poetry Series, which later got published in 1991.

Billy Collins’ fame was boosted by his poetry collection called The Art of Drowning, published in 1995 and got critical acclaim. He would publish many poetry collections in consecutive years; Nine Horses (2002), The Trouble with Poetry, and Other Poems (2005), Ballistics (2008), Horoscopes for the Dead (2011), Aimless Love (2013), The Rain in Portugal (2016), and Whale Day (2020) made him one of the most famous personalities in American poetry.

Some critics feel that his focus on the mundane which is the base of his poetic observations makes the poetry very bland and non-academic. But several people love his simple style which is understood and interpreted easily by everyone and shows an underlying concern for the readers.

Facts About Billy Collins' Education

Billy Collins was a student of the Archbishop Stepinac High School, situated in the White Plains.

Later on, Billy Collins received his higher education, from the College of The Holy Cross, Worcester, and received his B.A. degree in 1963. He received his M.A. degree and a Ph.D. in romantic poetry from the University of California in 1971.

It is known that during his young age, Billy Collins was influenced by contemporary poetry penned down by famous poets like Howard Nemerov, Karl Shapiro, Reed Whittemore as well as Beat Generation poets. After obtaining his Ph.D., Billy Collins served as a professor of English at Lehman College for many years until his retirement in 2016.

Billy Collins was an active member of his high school’s literary magazine club.

Facts About Billy Collins' Accomplishments

Throughout his career, Billy Collins has made several notable accomplishments, from reading his poetry in the White House to being named as the poet laureate of the country.

In 1992, Billy Collins was named the Literary Lion of the New York Public Library. He was also selected from 2004-2006 as the New York State Poet. Prior to that, Billy Collins was appointed as a Poet Laureate of the United States for a duration of two years from 2001-2003.

During that period, Billy Collins started an initiative called Poetry 180, which was a program to introduce high school students to the mesmerizing world of poetry and help them find their interests and pleasure in poetry. In 2005, Billy Collins was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for Humor in Poetry, and he also happened to be the first one to receive the annual prize.

In 2016, Billy Collins was added to the list of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. A U.S magazine called ‘Poetry’ awarded Billy Collins with the poet of the year award in 1994 and he has been receiving several awards for his work since then. One of Billy Collins’ poetry called ‘Fishing on the Susquehanna in July’, one of his most critically acclaimed works, has been added to the collection of preserved works of the United States Native American literary registry for being a culturally significant work of poetry. This poem is also included in the curriculum of national advanced placement exams held for high school students.

Collins recorded a very famous audio, The Best Cigarette, a collection of 34 of his poems to become a bestseller in 1997. When it comes to American poetry and American poets, Collins is regarded as an American Scholar in writing poems. Poems are a very heartfelt art to express one's feelings. A poet laureate is someone who is a poet, officially appointed by a government or conferring institution. A poet laureate is typically expected to compose poems for special events and occasional poetry.

This literary lion was the one to be appointed in 2001. Collins edited poems then and was well versed in contemporary poems. He is a new yorker, but he moved from the University of Pittsburgh Press to Random House, and the advance he received shocked the poetry world. Collins won many hearts from his early life. Bright wings is an illustrated anthology of poems about birds/poetry edited by Billy Collins (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010).

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Billy Collins facts: read more about the great American poet, then why not take a look at Billy Sunday facts or Billy Joel facts?

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