BY ALICE GORMAN - Some opportunities come across just once in a lifetime. The Johann Fust Community Library is honored to offer such an opportunity in Boca Grande. At 4 p.m. on November 15 at the Community Center auditorium, the beloved former Poet Laureate Billy Collins will read and speak about his poetry. Afterwards he will sign copies of his latest books. A special cocktail reception will follow.
For anyone who is unfamiliar with the work of Billy Collins, his biography is extensive and impressive. Bruce Weber of the New York Times has referred to him as “the most popular poet in America.” His poem “Forgetfulness” is a classic insight into the humor of memory loss. It is particularly appropriate for a retired community.
Billy Collins was born in 1941 in New York City. He earned a BA from the College of the Holy Cross, and both an MA and PhD from the University of California-Riverside. He is the author of several books of poetry, including Ballistics (2008), She Was Just Seventeen (2006), The Trouble with Poetry (2005); Nine Horses (2002); Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems (2001); Picnic, Lightning (1998); The Art of Drowning (1995), which was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Questions About Angels (1991), which was selected by Edward Hirsch for the National Poetry Series; The Apple That Astonished Paris (1988); Video Poems (1980); and Pokerface (1977).
His poetry has appeared in anthologies, textbooks, and a variety of periodicals, including Poetry, American Poetry Review, American Scholar, Harper's, Paris Review, and The New Yorker.
His work has been featured in the Pushcart Prize anthology and has been chosen several times for the annual Best American Poetry series. Collins has edited Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry (Random House, 2003), an anthology of contemporary poems for use in schools and was a guest editor for the 2006 edition of The Best American Poetry.
According to the Poetry Foundation, Collins’s level of fame is almost unprecedented in the world of contemporary poetry: his readings regularly sell out, and his books are collected by fans all over the world. He 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. 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 is a Distinguished Professor. He is also Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute in Florida, and a faculty member at the State University of New York - Stonybrook.
This exceptional event was made possible by a generous grant from the Park Foundation and Northern Trust. It will serve as the annual fund-raiser for operations for the Library. With a time limit, reservations were first offered to past patrons and supporters of the Library. The offer is now extended to the entire community with the hope that everyone who loves poetry and is an admirer of Billy Collins may attend. Tickets are currently available on a first come-first served basis. Tickets prices range from Supporters at $150 to Patrons at $250 to Angels at $500. For reservations and further information, please call or email Denise Searle, firstname.lastname@example.org, 964-2564.
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