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
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They include Poker face (1977), Video Poems (1980),
The Apple That Astonished Paris (1988), Questions About Angles (1991),
The Art of Drowning (1995), Picnic, Lighting (1998), Sailing Alone
Around the Room (2002), The After Life, and Nine Horses. In 1997 Billy
Collins married Diane Olbright, who he had met while attending the
University of California at Riverside. When they married she was the host of ABC’s “Wide World of Sports”, she is currently an architect.

Many things have had a large influenced Collins’ poetry. Religious faith has a particularly large impact. Billy grew up in a highly religious Irish Catholic family, and was taught how to live a good
Christian life. Collins, however, is not as deeply religious as his parents, but still continues to be Catholic for the sake of continuity, and respect toward his parents (Press). Many of Collins’ poems center around the ideas of religion; in fact, his book “The
Afterlife” is dedicated solely to religious themes. Jazz has also influenced Billy Collins’ poetry. He grew up listening to jazz, and many of his poems are about his love for this music (Mazin). The works of other poets have also influenced Collins’ writing. Although he certainly has his own unique style of writing, the influence of
Elizabethan metaphysical poetry is evident Collins particularly admires the works of George Herbert and John Donne (Billy Collins).
George Herbert uses homely and every-day images in his poetry as
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