Billy Collins, Former U.S. Poet Laureate, to Give
Photo by Jersey Wals
By Matt Bowden
Center for Talented
The Joshua Ringel Memorial Reading celebrates its 10th
anniversary at 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 13, when former U.S.
poet laureate Billy Collins takes the Shriver Hall stage on
the Homewood campus.
The event is sponsored by the Center for Talented
Youth at Johns Hopkins in partnership with the Gilman
School, Teachers & Writers Collaborative and WYPR.
Billy Collins is an American phenomenon. No poet since
Robert Frost has managed to combine high critical acclaim
with such broad popular appeal. The 2001-2003 U.S. poet
laureate, Collins is a frequent voice on National Public
Radio, and his work appears regularly in a variety of
periodicals, including The New Yorker and The
Paris Review. He is a Guggenheim fellow and a New York
Public Library "Literary Lion." In October 2004, Collins
was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Poetry
Foundation's Mark Twain Award for humorous poetry. He is
currently a professor of English at Lehman College of the
City University of New York.
"Luring his readers into the poem with humor, Mr.
Collins leads them unwittingly into deeper, more serious
places, a kind of journey from the familiar to quirky to
unexpected territory, sometimes tender, often profound," a
reviewer wrote in The New York Times. Collins has
published eight collections of poetry, including Nine
Horses and Sailing Alone Around the Room.
"Poetry can and should be an important part of our
daily lives," Collins says. To make the point, he, with the
Library of Congress, has spearheaded the Poetry 180
program, which seeks to have a poem read each day to the
students of high schools across the country. "Hearing a
poem every day, especially well-written, contemporary poems
that students do not have to analyze, might convince
students that poetry can be an understandable, painless and
even eye-opening part of their everyday experience," he
The Joshua Ringel Memorial Fund was established in
1998 by the Ringel family in memory of this former CTY
student whose life was cut short in a motorcycle accident
just before his 28th birthday. The Memorial Fund supports
an annual lecture/reading dedicated to education, poetry
and the imagination. Past visiting poets include Kenneth
Koch, Robert Pinsky, Grace Paley, John Ashbery, Sharon Olds
and Galway Kinnell.
A 4:30 p.m. reception precedes the event, with a book
signing immediately after. Books will be available for
purchase at the door. The reading is free but seats are
limited; to attend, e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and number of seats
requested, or call 410-735-4103.
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