La Praises JCU Poet-in-Residence Billy Collins' Reading

Billy Collins during the reading

Billy Collins during the reading

US Poet Laureate from 2001 to 2003, Billy Collins has achieved critical acclaim and wide popularity in the US and has been described as “the most popular poet in America” by the New York Times.

Collins, who is Distinguished Professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York, is currently Poet in Residence at Rome’s John Cabot University’s Institute for Creative Writing and Literary Translation.”

The reading at the ancient church of San Lorenzo in Miranda, which is built into the 141 AD Temple of Antoninus and Faustina at the Roman Forum, was part of the celebrations for John Cabot University’s 40th anniversary.

The article in prestigious Italian daily La Repubblica notes how Collins began his reading with a tribute to Italy’s greatest poet, Dante, before reading some of his most famous poems to a highly enthusiastic crowd of poetry enthusiasts of all ages.

As US poet laureate, Collins launched the Poetry 180 Project, designed to encourage high school students to read one poem each day of the school year. “The biggest mistake that schools make,” observed Collins, “ is to demand that students interpret and try to reason with poetry. Poetry is meant simply to be read and listened to.” Collins illustrates the result of this mistaken approach to poetry at the end of his poem “Introduction to Poetry: ” … But all they want to do/ is tie the poem to a chair with rope/ and torture a confession out of it./They begin beating it with a hose/ to find out what it really means.”

Billy Collins has published nine collections of poetry: Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, Picnic, Lightning, Taking Off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes, Sailing Alone Around the Room: New & Selected Poems, Nine Horses, The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems, and Ballistics. 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 Everyday, was the guest editor of The Best American Poetry 2006, and edited Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems about Birds, with paintings by David Allen Sibley. His newest book, a collection of poems entitled Horoscopes for the Dead, was published in 2011.

Read the article (in Italian) in La

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