Excerpt from Deerfield Magazine (Fall, 2012)
Poetry in Motion
I see all of us reading ourselves away from ourselves,
Straining in circles of light to find more light
Until the line of words becomes a trail of crumbs
That we follow across a fresh page of snow;
Excerpt from the poem “Books,” first published in The Apple That Astonished Paris, 1988.
The New York Times Book Review once commented that young writers have plenty to learn from Billy Collins’ clarity and apparent ease, and in October all Deerfield students will have the opportunity to learn from this beloved US poet laureate emeritus.
A distinguished professor of English at Lehman College, Collins served as poet laureate from 2001 to 2003, during which time, at the special request of the Librarian of Congress, he wrote “The Names”—a remembrance of the victims of the 9/11 attacks. On September 6, 2002, Collins read the poem at a special joint session of Congress; he has read it in public on only one other occasion, and has vowed not to include it in any of his books, thereby refusing to capitalize on such tragic events. However, “The Names” is included in the Library of Congress’ The Poets Laureate Anthology. As poet laureate, Collins also developed the program Poetry 180 for use in high schools.
In addition to his longtime work as a professor (he began his tenure at Lehman College in 1968), Collins co-founded The Mid Atlantic Review, is a founding advisory board member of the CUNY Institute for Irish-American studies at Lehman, has taught and served as a visiting writer at Sarah Lawrence College, as well as teaching workshops across the US and in Ireland. He also serves on the advisory boards of several literary journals.