(born William James Collins) is an American poet, appointed as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. He is a Distinguished Professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York and is the Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute, Florida. Collins was recognized as a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library (1992) and selected as the New York State Poet for 2004-2006.
Collins was born in New York City to William and Katherine Collins. Katherine Collins was a nurse who stopped working to raise the couple's only child. Mrs. Collins had the ability to recite verses on almost any subject, which she often did, and cultivated in her young son the love of words, both written and spoken. Billy Collins attended Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains and received a B.A. (English) from the College of the Holy Cross in 1963 and received his M.A. and Ph.D in English from the University of California, Riverside. His professors at Riverside included Victorian scholar and poet Robert Peters. In 1975 Collins founded The Mid Atlantic Review with his good friend and co-editor, Michael Shannon.
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