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Throughout his life, Billy Collins has written many poems and many very successful poetry books. His first book, Poker Face, was written in 1977

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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 deep roots in the Irish Catholic religion (Press). Both of his parents held steady jobs; his father was an insurance broker, and his mother was a nurse. During Billy Collins' years up until middle school, he had received a below average education, attending a public school in the Bronx. However, his father became very successful and rather wealthy. Billy and his family then moved to Westchester County, a wealthy New York suburb, where he attended a prestigious private school. ...read more.


During the beginning of his career he experimented with many different styles of poetry. In fact, his first poems were emotionally deep and lacking humor. It was not until his mid forties that he developed the unique style of poetry for which he is now so well known (Press). Collins has had no one major success but rather all of his books have come together to make him very successful, each with their own contribution to his popularity. His first books, for example, were not as successful as his more recent ones, if it weren't for them, he would have never made a name for himself thus his more recent books would not have been close to as successful as they were (Mazin). Through out his career, Collins has achieved many awards and honors. Arguably his most outstanding achievement was being crowned the forty-first Poet Laureate of the US, a very prestigious and honorable position that only the most skillful of poets can achieve. He has also received a variety of other awards including the Oscar Blumenthal Prize, the Bess Hokin Prize, and the Levinson Prize. He was also named Best American Poet in 1992 and 1993, and has been given a fellowship from the New York Foundation for the arts. ...read more.


In this poem, Collins is listening to a jazz song on the familiar romantic theme of beauty, foolishness, and love. He imagines he is in a jazz club watching all the "beautiful fools gathered around little tables." He plays in his mind with the relationship between beauty and foolishness as a jazz musician would play variations on a theme of music. He comes to the conclusion that we are all fools for not seeing our own beauty. This poem shows Collins' love of music and familiarity with jazz. It can also be appreciated on two different levels. You can enjoy the dreamy description of a jazz club, but also the deeper discussion on the topic of beauty. Despite his upbringing in a middle class home, and his poor education as a child, Collins has become a very well known and highly respected poet, whose middle class backgrounds have had a large influence on his poetry, as well as his goal to make poetry more accessible to the average reader. Collins has had a very successful career, publishing several poetry books and being the Poet Laureate of the U.S. from 2001-2003. Collins has a very unique style of poetry that has appeal to both the average person, being both easy to read and humorous to the normal person, and the more sophisticated reader by having a deeper more complex meanings. ...read more.

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