Monday, February 16, 2004

Poet Billy Collins Visits For Annual Sophie Kerr Weekend

Public Reading March 19-20 in the Norman James Theatre

Chestertown, MD, February 16, 2004 — Washington College's Sophie Kerr Committee,O'Neill Literary House and Admissions Office welcome the 2001-2003 United States Poet Laureate, Billy Collins, to campus for the College's annual Sophie Kerr Weekend for high school students interested in creative writing. Collins will give a public reading from his works Friday, March 19, at 4 p.m. in the College's Norman James Theatre. The event is free and all are invited to attend.
A phenomenon in the world of contemporary literature, Collins is a poet who has stepped out of chapbook obscurity into popular success. Accessible, humorous, and contemplative, Collins has been called “an American original” and “a metaphysical poet with a funny bone.” The author of seven books of poetry, including Nine Horses (2002), Sailing Alone Around the Room (2001), Picnic, Lightning (1997), The Art of Drowning (1995), and Questions About Angels (1991)—selected by Edward Hirsch for the National Poetry Series—Collins also has recorded a CD audiobook of poetry, The Best Cigarette (1997). His poetry has appeared in anthologies, textbooks, and periodicals, including Poetry, The American Poetry Review, The American Scholar, Harper's, The Paris Review and The New Yorker. Collins' works have been selected for The Best American Poetry anthology in 1992 and 1993 and have garnered him the Bess Hokin, Frederick Bock, Oscar Blumenthal, and Levinson prizes from Poetrymagazine. Collins has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, The National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation, and for several years he has conducted summer poetry workshops at University College-Galway. He is poet-in-residence at Burren College of Art in Ireland and professor of English at Lehman College (CUNY).
The Sophie Kerr Weekend is named in honor of the late writer from Denton, MD, whose generosity has done so much to enrich Washington College's creative writing program and literary culture. When Kerr died in 1965, she left the bulk of her estate to the College specifying that one half of the income from her bequest be awarded every year to the senior showing the most “ability and promise for future fulfillment in the field of literary endeavor,” and the other half be used to bring visiting writers to campus, to fund scholarships, and to help defray the costs of student publications.

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