Billy Collins was born on March 22, 1941 in New York, NY and is married to Diane Collins. He is the son of Katherine M. Collins and William S. Collins. Collins received a Bachelors Degree at the College of the Holy Cross in 1963 and also received a Ph.D. in romantic poetry in 1971. He has been a writer-in-residence at Sarah Lawrence College and also was a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library. He is an English Professor at Lehman College for CUNY, where he has been teaching for over 30 years. In June of 2001, Collins was appointed United States Poet Laureate (2001-2003). In January of 2004, he was named New York State Poet Laureate 2004-2006. Collins has been able to put together high critical acclaim with such broad popular appeal which is something no poet has done since Robert Frost. His last three collections of poems broke sales records for poetry. His audiences include people of all ages and backgrounds. Collins published eight collections of poetry. He also edited two anthologies of contemporary poetry: Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry and 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day. His work has also appeared in such periodicals as The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Atlantic Monthly, and The American Scholar.
Critical Essay on ¡§The Afterlife¡¨ by Chris Semansky
Chris Semansky claims that Billy Collins serio-comic book Questions about Angels, addresses religious questions without being religious. Semansky evaluates Collins¡¦ poem ¡§The Afterlife¡¨ and emphasizes that Collins draws a relationship between imagination and belief. Semansky claims that ¡§imagination is at the root of belief.¡¨ Semansky calls Collins a relativist which is a philosophical position which asserts that the belief of each individual is relative to his or her own belief. Semansky believes that Collins description of the afterlife, and the images of the journeys of the dead, draw a relationship between an individual¡¦s imagination rather than a religious standpoint. Semansky sums it up by saying that Collins is not trying to send a religious message to his readers but rather he is trying to inform his readers to find the meaning of life¡¦s experiences rather than waiting for the rewards of the afterlife. Chris Semansky, ¡§Critical Essay on The Afterlife¡¨, in Poetry for Students, Vol 18, Gale, 2003.
Collins, Billy by Tod Marshall
Tod Marshall describes Billy Collins as both philosophical and comical. He also claims that Collins is not only intellectual but accessible. Marshall claims that Collins¡¦s accessibility is quite unexpected by a poet who is distinguished by academic critics. Marshall identifies that Collins¡¦ pattern in his poems are to starts with an encounter of the imaginary world and then reflects to a literary figure either philosophic or religious. Marshals examination of Collins¡¦ collection from Questions about Angels, to Picnic, Lightning all lack exploration of different motifs. He claims that Collins is not like other contemporary poets because he employs both satire and humor in his poetry. Collins¡¦ manipulation of intimacy and humor are used to benefit his performance as a poet. Collins often uses his performance to promote his work. Marshall believes that if Collins finds a way to detach from his praised style he will develop his abilities in different directions. Tod Marshall, ¡§Collins, Billy¡¨ in Contemporary Poets, 7th Ed., edited by Thomas Riggs, St. James Press, 2001, pp 186-187. Reprinted in Poetry for Students, Vol 18.
Overview of Collin¡¦s Works
XPokerface, Limited Edition, Kenmore, 1977.
XVideo Poems, Applezaba (Long Beach, CA), 1980.
XThe Apple That Astonished Paris, University of Arkansas Press (Fayetteville, AR), 1988. XQuestions about Angels, Morrow (New York, NY), 1991, University of Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, PA) 1999. XThe Art of Drowning, University of Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, PA) 1995. XPicnic, Lightning, University of...