Billy Collins Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Billy Collins has confined himself primarily to poetry in his printed work. Besides composing his own poetic works, he has edited a number of poetry anthologies, including Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry (2003), 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day (2005), The Best American Poetry, 2006 (2006; with David Lehman), and Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds (2009). However, he has been quick to embrace other means of communicating his work. The Best Cigarette (1993) and Billy Collins Live (2005) are compact disc readings. Collins has also published online in Cortland Review, an electronic literary magazine. In 2002, one of his essays was included in The Eye of the Poet: Six Views of the Art and Craft of Poetry.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Billy Collins has been called arguably “the most popular poet in America,” not only for his accessible and often humorous work in print, but also for his appearances on National Public Radio (NPR). Several of his collections have broken sales records for poetry, and he has read and talked about his work with engaging charm on NPR’s Fresh Air in 1997 and several times on NPR’s Prairie Home Companion, including in 2009. However, Collins is critically acclaimed as well as popular. He has received poetry fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He has received the Bess Hokin Award (1990), the Oscar Blumenthal Award, the Frederick Bock Prize (1992), the Levinson Prize (1995), and the J. Howard and Barbara M. J. Wood Prize (1999), all from Poetry magazine. He has been named Literary Lion by the New York Public Library, and the Poetry Foundation made him the 2004 inaugural recipient of the Mark Twain Award for humorous poetry. His Questions About Angels won the National Poetry Series competition for 1990. Collins served as poet laureate consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress from 2001 to 2003 and as the New York State poet laureate from 2004 to 2006. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Paris Review, and American Scholar.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Allen, Dick. Review of The Apple That Astonished Paris. Hudson Review 42, no. 2 (Summer, 1989): 321. Allen praises Collins for his accessibility, noting his “friendly lines” and calling the volume an “irrepressible delight.”

Alleva, Richard. “A Major Minor Poet: Billy Collins Isn’t Just Funny.” Commonweal 129, no. 1 (January 11, 2002): 21-22. Alleva calls Collins a “celebrant of the beauty and comedy that are everywhere around us in everyday life.”

Collins, Billy. “Billy Collins: The Art of Poetry LXXXIII.” Interview by George Plimpton. Paris Review 43, no. 159 (Fall, 2001): 183-216. Collins describes how he writes poetry and what inspires him.

_______. “Inspired by a Bunny Wabbit.” The Wall Street Journal, June 28, 2008, p. W1. Collins demonstrates, in this tribute to Warner Bros. cartoons, how creativity in one medium can affect creativity in another. The plasticity of these cartoon figures, “like Ovid on speed,” became a precursor to his own concept of travel poetry.

Kirsch, Adam. “Over Easy.” Review of Sailing Alone Around the Room. The New Republic 225, no. 18 (October 29, 2001): 38-41. Claims that Collins’s “true poetic gift” is “a genuine, if often debased, wit.”

Laird, Nick....

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