Former Poet Laureate Billy Collins at TU April 2

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The University of Tulsa’s 2008–09 Presidential Lecture Series will conclude April 2 with a presentation from renowned poet Billy Collins, who served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 2001 to 2003.

Collins’ presentation begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Great Hall at the Allen Chapman Activity Center on TU’s campus. The events are free and open to the public. Doors will open at approximately 6:30 p.m.

The TU Presidential Lecture Series is presented by the Darcy O’Brien Endowed Chair, which was established to honor the memory of the late TU professor. A Pulitzer Prize-nominated author, scholar and critic, O’Brien was a member of the TU English faculty from 1978 until 1996. O’Brien died in 1998 at the age of 58, and the Darcy O’Brien Endowed Chair was established in 2001.

Collins is arguably the most popular poet in America and served wo terms as the U.S. poet laureate from 2001-2003. No poet since Robert Frost has managed to combine high critical acclaim with such broad popular appeal.

His work has appeared in a variety of periodicals including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The American Scholar, he is a Guggenheim fellow and a New York Public Library “Literary Lion.” His last three collections of poems have broken sales records for poetry. His readings are usually standing room only, and his audience – enhanced tremendously by his appearances on National Public Radio – includes people of all backgrounds and age groups. The poems themselves best explain this phenomenon. The typical Collins poem opens on a clear and hospitable note but soon takes an unexpected turn; poems that begin in irony may end in a moment of lyric surprise. No wonder Collins sees his poetry as “a form of travel writing” and considers humor “a door into the serious.” It is a door that many thousands of readers have opened with amazement and delight.

Collins has published eight collections of poetry, including "Questions About Angels," "The Art of Drowning," "Picnic," "Lightning," "Taking Off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes," "Sailing Alone Around the Room: New & Selected Poems," "Nine Horses," and "The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems." A collection of his haiku, titled "She Was Just Seventeen," was published in 2006. He also edited two anthologies of contemporary poetry: "Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry" and "180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day."

In June 2001, Billy Collins was appointed United States Poet Laureate 2001-2003. In January 2004, he was named New York State Poet Laureate 2004-06. Billy Collins is a distinguished professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York.

Included among the honors Billy Collins has received are fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He has also been awarded the Oscar Blumenthal Prize, the Bess Hokin Prize, the Frederick Bock Prize, and the Levinson Prize — all awarded by Poetry magazine. In October 2004, Collins was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Poetry Foundation’s Mark Twain Award for humorous poetry.

David Hamby