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Alumnus Named U.S. Poet Laureate


Alumnus Named U.S. Poet Laureate

(June 22, 2001)

Click here for text and real audio of Billy Collins reading "I Ask You" and "Neither Snow"

Billy Collins, an alumnus of the University of California, Riverside, was named Poet Laureate of the United States this week.

Collins received his master's degree in English and Ph.D. in romantic poetry from UCR in 1965 and 1971, respectively. He received a bachelor-of-arts degree in English from Holy Cross College in Worcester, MA.

Collins has taught English as a distinguished professor at Lehman College at the City University of New York for three decades. Collins, 60, will assume poet laureate duties in October, when he opens the Library of Congress' annual literary series with a reading of his works.

"Billy Collins' poetry is widely accessible," the librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, said in announcing the selection to The New York Times. "He writes in an original way about all manner of ordinary things and situations with both humor and a surprising contemplative twist."

In addition to his faculty position at Lehman College in the Bronx, Collins is a writer-in-residence at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, NY.

Collins told The New York Times that he hopes to "add my touch to the laureateship," a largely honorary one-year appointment that carries with it a $35,000 stipend and an office in the Library of Congress. His style has been to make poetry accessible to a wide variety of people.

Collins' books of poetry include "Picnic Lightning" (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998); "The Art of Drowning" (1995), which was a Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize finalist; and "Questions About Angels" (1991). His next collection, "Sailing Alone Around the Room," is to be released this fall by Random House.

Collins lives with his wife, Diane, an architect, in Westchester County, NY.

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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