Skip to Main Content Skip to Main Navigation
search this website
search this website

Lehman College Logo Click Here to go back to Homepage

Billy Collins

Professor Emeritus

Billy Collins



A.B., Holy Cross
Ph.D., University of California, Riverside


Dubbed "the most popular poet in America" by Bruce Weber in the New York Times, Billy Collins is famous for conversational, witty poems that welcome readers with humor but often slip into quirky, tender or profound observation on the everyday, reading and writing, and poetry itself. John Updike praised Collins for writing "lovely poems...Limpid, gently and consistently startling, more serious than they seem, they describe all the worlds that are and were and some others besides." But Collins has offered a slightly different take on his appeal, admitting that his poetry is "suburban, it's domestic, it's middle class, and it's sort of unashamedly that." Collins served two terms as the US Poet Laureate, from 2001-2003, was New York State Poet Laureate from 2004-2006, and is a regular guest on National Public Radio programs. In 2002, as U.S. Poet Laureate, Collins was asked to write a poem commemorating the first anniversary of the fall of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on September 11. The reading was in front of a joint session of Congress held outside of Washington D.C.

Collins has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the New York Foundation for the Arts and has taught at Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence, and Lehman College, City University of New York, where he recently retired from his position as a Distinguished Professor.

(Biography excerpted from

Selected Publications

  • Aimless Love, Random House, 2013.
  • Horoscopes for the Dead, Random House (New York, NY), 2011.
  • Ballistics, Random House (New York, NY), 2008.
  • The Trouble with Poetry, Random House (New York, NY), 2005.
  • Nine Horses: Poems, Random House (New York, NY), 2002.
  • Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems, Random House (New York, NY), 2001.
  • Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes, Picador (London, England), 2000.
  • Picnic, Lightning, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998.
  • The Art of Drowning, University of Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 1995.