Does religion inform your worldview?

One of the most popular living poets in the United States, Billy Collins was born in New York City in 1941. Collins is the author of nine books of poetry, including She Was Just Seventeen (2006), The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems (2005), Nine Horses (2002), and Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems (2001). His work appears regularly in such periodicals as Poetry, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Harper's Magazine, and has been featured in various textbooks and anthologies, including those for the Pushcart Prize and the annual Best American Poetry series. Between 2001 and 2004, Collins served two terms at the 11th Poet Laureate of the United States. In his home state, Collins has been recognized as a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library (1992) and selected as the New York State Poet for 2004. Other honors include fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation, and the first annual Mark Twain Prize for Humor in Poetry. He is currently a Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College in the Bronx, where has taught for over thirty years. Ideas recorded at the 2007 Aspen Ideas Festival on: 7/4/07
  • Transcript


Billy Collins:    Well I’m the kind of recovering Catholic.  I went to Catholic school from the 1st grade right through college – the full metal jacket of Catholic education.  When I got to graduate school, it was the first time I’d been in a classroom with a female since the 8th grade.  So I’m unsure of the effect of that on me.So I have all the imagery of Catholicism.  It’s still very vivid and vibrant. 

And the faith is something else.  It’s very difficult in a way to maintain a connection to a church that is so full of flaws and hierarchically-structured church.  Martin Sheen, I think, summed it up best when he said, “I don’t believe in God, but I believe that Mary was His mother.”  In other words, you can lose contact with the theology, but you can never lose contact with the iconography, the imagery and the stories.