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Winter Park Institute

Billy Collins

Senior Distinguished Fellow and two-term U.S. Poet Laureate

In addition to his role as Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute, Billy Collins is a two-term U.S. Poet Laureate whose work has appeared in a variety of periodicals, including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The American Scholar.

A Prolific Fellow

In addition to his role as Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute, Billy Collins is a two-term U.S. Poet Laureate whose work has appeared in a variety of periodicals, including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The American Scholar.


Billy Collins is an American phenomenon. 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.

Billy Collins has published eleven collections of poetry, including Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems 2003-2013, Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes, Sailing Alone Around the Room: New & Selected Poems, Nine Horses, The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems, Ballistics, Horoscopes for the Dead, and Picnic, Lightning. A collection of his haiku, titled She Was Just Seventeen, was published by Modern Haiku Press in fall 2006. He also edited two anthologies of contemporary poetry: Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry and 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, and was the guest editor of The Best American Poetry 2006. He is also the editor of Bright Wings: Poems about Birds, illustrated by David Sibley and published by Columbia University Press. He has published a children's book Voyage (2014), and his latest collection is The Rain in Portugal (2016).

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. Collins was the inaugural recipient of the Poetry Foundation's Mark Twain Award for Humor in Poetry. In April 2013 Collins was awarded the Donald Hall-Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry. He is also the winner of the 2014 Norman Mailer Prize for Poetry.

Collins served as guest host of The Writer's Almanac for summer 2013 and continues as Poetry Consultant for Smithsonian magazine. This year he also travelled to Russia as a cultural emissary of the State Department.

Collins was appointed United States Poet Laureate 2001-2003. He served as New York State Poet Laureate 2004-06. He is Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute at Rollins College, and a former Distinguished Professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York. He was recently inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

News & Events

2014 News
Voyage (An illustrated children's book, Bunker Hill Press)
Aimless Love paperback published (#18 on New York Times Best Selling Paperback Fiction List)
The Atlantic, The Irish Times, The Sewannee Review, New Ohio Review, The Southampton Review, andThe Village Voice

Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library (IN)
La Cuidad de las ideas (Puebla, Mexico)
Dodge Poetry Festival (NJ)
The Music Hall Loft (NH)
Muskegon Community College (MI)
Elizabethtown College (PA)
The Nantucket Project (MA)
Southern Utah State University (UT)
National Book Festival (DC)
Delacorte Theater: "Shakespeare in America Celebration" (NYC)
Kilkenny Literary Festival (Ireland)
Edinburgh Festival (UK)
"Bookstock" in Woodstock (VT)
Aspen Writers Conference (CO)
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library (MA)
Pepperdine College (with Aimee Mann)
TED Conference (Vancouver, BC)

Norman Mailer Prize for Distinguished Poetry
Convocation address: Southern Utah University
Literary papers placed in the Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin.

2013 News
At the request of Garrison Keillor, Billy Collins served as guest host for the daily radio program The Writer's Alamanc from June through September of 2013.

Collins was a TED speaker in 2011, and for the 30th anniversary meeting of TED he was selected by a popular vote to be one of 100 out of over 1,000 past TED speakers who will attend this special TED gathering in Vancouver in March of 2014.

The U.S. State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs awarded Collins a U.S. Speaker and Special Grant to participate in a project on American Culture in Russia in September 2013. This involved meetings in Moscow and Yekaterinburg with Russian poets, writers, and cultural leaders.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Grand Central Terminal in New York, Collins was commissioned by Metropolitan Transit Arts of the City of New York to write a poem. He read the poem at the anniversary ceremony held in the Concourse, and the poem appears on 2600 subway cars and on the backs of thousands of MetroCards. Watch Video

Point Loma Nazarene College in San Diego
St. Petersburg College
The Denver Post, St. Sebastian School (Needham, MA)
Loomis Chafee School (Windsor, CT)
Frances Parker School (Chicago), Kent State
A benefit for The Children's Hospital of Oakland, CA
The Teachers' College of Columbia University (NY)
The Southhampton Writers' Conference (NY)
The Sunken Garden Poetry Festival (CT)
A benefit for Featherstone Arts on Martha's Vineyard (MA)
A benefit for Porter's Call (TN)
A conversation with Paul Simon at Chautauqua (NY)
Sun Valley, Burlington Humanities Council (VT)
Palm Beach Poetry Festival
Kiawah Island Teachers' Conference, Syracuse Universtiy
Pantages Theatre (MN)
Key West Literary Seminar
The 92nd Street Y (NY)
The Folger Library (DC)

Locally, Collins gave readings at the Winter Park Rotary Club and The Mayflower. In the fall, he read at The English Speakers' Union at the University Club.

Collins conducted an all-day long workshop on poetry and teaching with 25 specially selected teachers from the New York area as part of the "Teacher's Academy." The workshop was held at Lehman College (City University of New York).

In April, Collins served as a table host for the annual PEN Gala in New York.

Collins read at the New York Botanical Gardens for their annual Holiday Train Show, which featured his poems.

He appeared at the White House at the invitation of the First Lady and gave a private reading for her and her guests including the wife of the visting Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Collins's new collection of poems, AIMLESS LOVE: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS 2003-2013 was released by Random House in October. He has also recorded a selection of those poems to be released as a CD by Random House Audio. The book tour included stops in Seattle, Eugene (OR), San Francisco, San Raphael (CA), Santa Cruz, Washington DC, Atlanta, Miami, and Grand Cayman. His booktour included appearances on The Colber Report, the Diane Rehm Show, The PBS NewsHour, and The Leonard Lopate Show. The book appeared at #12 on the New York Times Best Selling Fiction list and is now in its 7th printing.

Collins returned as a guest on A Prairie Home Companion in Minneapolis in October.

"Poetry 180," an anthology of contemporary poetry edited by Collins was selected as the 2013 book for Vermont Reads.

Collins's poetry collection Sailing Alone Around the Room went into its 16th printing.