Billy Collins, full name William James Collins, (born March 22, 1941 in New York, New York, United States), is an American poet whose uncommonly accessible verse—characterized by plain language, gentle humour, and an alert appreciation for the mundane—made him one of the country's most popular poets. He has written about a dozen collections of poems.
Collins wrote his first poem at the age of nine and has been writing ever since. He has said that he decided to become a poet because it was "the only way I could be myself without being fired". Although he has never received any formal training as a poet, he has published several books of poems, including two National Book Award finalists. His work has been widely praised and has earned him many awards and prizes.
Collins currently lives in Princeton, New Jersey with his wife, writer Jean Evans Collins. They have two children together, a daughter and a son.
He teaches in the MFA Program in Writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Collins writes on the subject of poetry itself: "I think everybody knows what poetry is. It's the words and the music of love."
His own definition is more succinct: "Poetry is the art of saying something well."
In the New York Times, Bruce Weber labeled Billy Collins "the most popular poet in America." He is most known for his conversational, humorous poems that greet readers with laughter but frequently veer into quirky, compassionate, or deep insights on ordinary life, reading and writing, and poetry itself.
Collins's work has been praised for its accessibility and warmth, which have made many of his poems favorite gifts and birthday presents.
His poems have been included in several collections of classic poetry, including The Best of Billy Collins and A Billy Collins Reader. Two of his poems were selected by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington for inclusion on the National Poetry Wall Calendar.
Collins's work tends to follow a simple pattern: an opening line with a question mark, followed by a series of verses describing a scene or object in detail. These descriptions are often accompanied by puns or other word plays that catch the reader off guard with humor or insight. At the end of each verse, there is usually a short, catchy line called a "closing stanza" that serves as both conclusion and title. Some examples from his collection of poems Are You Happy?
This book focuses on what it means to be human, how we deal with tragedy and loss, and what it means to be happy. It includes poems about parents and children, love and marriage, friendship, death, taxes, and more.
Early Childhood and Education Billy Collins was born in the New York City borough of Manhattan. In middle school, he began composing poems, inspired by the editions of Poetry magazine that were in his house. These poems were not appreciated by anyone except for himself, but they excited him. In 1976, at the age of 21, he published his first collection of poems, titled simply Billy Collins. Since then, he has gone on to publish several more collections, as well as writing essays, reviews, and lyrics for songs.
Later Career During his last year of college, Collins began writing reviews for The Paris Review, which led to a job there when he graduated from Columbia University in 1989. He has since become one of their most frequent contributors, writing about contemporary artists such as Paul Celan, John Donne, Robert Frost, and William Carlos Williams.
In 1998, Collins released his first book of collected poems, called Just Give Me a Kiss. The following year, he published another collection of poems, called Death with Interruptions. Then in 2001, he came out with a third collection of poems, this time including some from his earlier books as well as new work. Titled A History of Love, this collection won the National Book Award for Poetry.
Besides being a poet, Collins is also an essayist, critic, and lyricist.
However, Introduction to Poetry is the poet's way of expressing that a poem is a thing of wonder and should be treated with care so that both the poem and the reader do not suffer internal damage. In effect, Billy Collins is professing his passion for poetry since it is a living creature formed of common words, according to him. He also wants others to appreciate its beauty.
Billy Collins says that poetry is language made visible through rhythm, meter, imagery, and metaphor. He goes on to say that we can learn much from studying poems because they contain information about human nature that can't be found in any other form of writing. In short, he believes that poetry is an important part of society that deserves to be studied like other disciplines such as history or literature.
Poetry is the language made visible. It is what gives voice to our most intimate thoughts and feelings and provides an opportunity for us to express ourselves creatively. Study poetry, and you will learn much about human nature. It is an art form that exists in many forms throughout history and across cultures. It helps us understand different perspectives and experiences all at once releasing some of the pain caused by being human!
Poetry is language made visible through rhythm, meter, imagery, and metaphor. It can teach us much about human nature because it contains information about our most intimate thoughts and feelings that can't be found anywhere else.