Reading: Constellations

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: “Yes that’s Orion over there, the three studs of the belt clearly lined up just off the horizon.  And if you turn around you can see Gemini very visible tonight, the twins looking off into space as usual.  That cluster a little higher in the sky is Cassiopeia sitting in her astral chair if I’m not mistaken.  And directly overhead, isn’t that Virginia Wolfe slipping along the river ooze in her inflatable canoe?  See the wide-brimmed hat?  And there!  The outline of the paddle raised and dripping stars.”