Billy Collins is a two-term U.S. Poet Laureate (2001-2003), who is well known, well regarded, and sometimes well critiqued for his flavor of poetry that is welcoming to all readers, even those not generally drawn to verse. Collins is acclaimed for his use of humor and accessible style, drawing in crowds ranging from the 900 locals who bought tickets to his reading at an Ogden School Foundation benefit in November 2007, to the many listeners who have heard him performing on National Public Radio’s Prairie Home Companion, to the millions who have purchased his numerous collections of poetry, setting and breaking records for poetry book sales. While Poet Laureate, Collins created the Poetry 180 project, which promoted the reading of contemporary poetry in schools across the country. Collins edited two collections of work for this project, and the Library of Congress continues to host a web page (http://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/) with a poem for each day of the school year. In addition to numerous collections of his own work, Collins’ most recent book, Ballistics, was published in September 2008. Billy Collins resides in New York, where he has been teaching at Lehman College for four decades.
Read an interview with Billy Collins published in this issue of Weber.
A Dog on his Master
As young as I look,
I am growing older faster than he,
seven to one
is the ratio they tend to say.
Whatever the number,
I will pass him one day
and take the lead
the way I do on our walks in the woods.
And if this ever manages
to cross his mind,
it would be the sweetest
shadow I have ever cast on snow or grass.
The woman who wrote me from Phoenix
after my reading there
to tell me they were all still talking about it
just wrote again
to tell me that they had stopped.