For Immediate Release

Contact: Deborah Gilleran

Former Poet Laureate Billy Collins to Give Free Poetry Reading at GCU

Lakewood, N.J., Mar. 10, 2009—On Tuesday, March 31, at 6:00 p.m., join Georgian Court University for a free poetry reading by former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins, Ph.D. The event, which is presented by the Department of English, Communications, and Writing, will take place in the Casino building on the Lakewood campus. Although tickets are free, reservations are required by contacting the GCU Office of Conferences and Special Events at 732.987.2263 or

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.
—Excerpt from Billy Collins’ “Forgetfulness” from Questions about Angels (1999)

About Billy Collins
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.” Three of his most recent 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 Dr. 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.

Dr. Collins has published many collections of poetry, including 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; and The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems. 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. His latest poetry collection, Ballistics, was published in September 2008.

Included among the honors Dr. 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. In October 2004, Dr. Collins was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Poetry Foundation’s Mark Twain Award for humorous poetry.

In June 2001, Dr. Collins was appointed U.S. Poet Laureate 2001–2003. In January 2004, he was named New York State Poet Laureate 2004–2006. He is a distinguished professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York, where he has taught for over 40 years.

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is a comprehensive university with a strong liberal arts core and a special concern for women. A forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, Georgian Court serves over 3,000 students of all faiths and backgrounds in a residential Women's College and a coeducational University College with undergraduate and graduate programs. Georgian Court's main campus is located at 900 Lakewood Avenue, Lakewood, N.J., on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, now named a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court also offers classes at its site at 90 Woodbridge Center Drive in Woodbridge, at Coastal Communiversity in Wall, and at Cumberland County College in Vineland.

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