The Poetry of Billy Collins Essay

The Poetry of Billy Collins Essay

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The Poetry of Billy Collins


In 2001 a new poet laureate was crowned and a new voice; the voice of
a poetic everyman was heard by many for the first time. That voice
belonged to Billy Collins. Collins was born into a working-class Bronx
couple, and grew up in a typical middle-class neighborhood where he
went to church on Sundays and listened to jazz music in his free time.
This middle-class background and sensibilities are reflected in his
poetic style and themes, and in his desire to bring poetry back into
the American main stream by making it more accessible to the average
reader.

Billy Collins was born March 22, 1941 in Queens, New York. He was born
into a middle class family. His parents were of Irish descent, and had
deep roots in the Irish Catholic religion (Press). Both of his parents
held steady jobs; his father was an insurance broker, and his mother
was a nurse. During Billy Collins’ years up until middle school, he
had received a below average education, attending a public school in
the Bronx. However, his father became very successful and rather
wealthy. Billy and his family then moved to Westchester County, a
wealthy New York suburb, where he attended a prestigious private
school. After high school, Billy attended Holy Cross College where he
received his bachelors degree, then went on to get his Ph.D. in
Romantic poetry at the University of California at Riverside. Billy
began his Career in poetry as a writer for “Rolling Stones” magazine,
selling his poems for thirty-five dollars each (Billy Collins). In
1970, after his job in “Rolling Stones”, he got a position teaching
poetry at Lehman College, located in the Bronx, where he is still
teaching. Along with his teaching career, he served...


... middle of paper ...


...shows Collins’ love of music and familiarity with
jazz. It can also be appreciated on two different levels. You can
enjoy the dreamy description of a jazz club, but also the deeper
discussion on the topic of beauty.

Despite his upbringing in a middle class home, and his poor education
as a child, Collins has become a very well known and highly respected
poet, whose middle class backgrounds have had a large influence on his
poetry, as well as his goal to make poetry more accessible to the
average reader. Collins has had a very successful career, publishing
several poetry books and being the Poet Laureate of the U.S. from
2001-2003.

Collins has a very unique style of poetry that has appeal to both the
average person, being both easy to read and humorous to the normal
person, and the more sophisticated reader by having a deeper more
complex meanings.

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