Billy Collins returns to Featherstone

Billy Collins will teach a poetry writing workshop at Featherstone. — Bill Hayes

Featherstone Center for the Arts welcomes back former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins for a night of poetry, as well as a poetry writing workshop.

Collins first came to Featherstone in 2007 and has returned on a biennial basis since. However, that tradition was put on hold since 2019 due to COVID. Now, according to a press release, Collins will be returning on Thursday, Sept. 8, for a reading in the Francine Kelly Gallery at 6:30 pm. He will also be teaching a poetry workshop on Friday, Sept. 9, from 9 am to noon.

According to the Poetry Foundation: “Collins’s level of fame is almost unprecedented in the world of contemporary poetry: his readings regularly sell out, and he received a six-figure ad- vance when he moved publishers in the late 1990s. He served two terms as the U.S. Poet Lau- reate, from 2001 to 2003, was New York State Poet Laureate from 2004 to 2006, and is a regular guest on National Public Radio programs. In 2002, as U.S. Poet Laureate, Collins was asked to write a poem commemorating the first anniversary of the fall of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on September 11. The reading was in front of a joint session of Congress held outside of Washington, D.C.”

Bringing Collins back to Martha’s Vineyard is a welcome moment for the people at Featherstone, the release says.

“We all look forward to Billy Collins returning to Featherstone and spreading joy with his incredible words and wit,” Ann Smith, Featherstone executive director, said.

“Having Billy Collins back at Featherstone is a real gift,” added Mathea Morais, program director of Featherstone Literary Arts. “We are so lucky that we not only get to hear his amazing poetry, but that he is willing to share his skill with a group of students as well.”

Collins is the author of 12 collections of poetry including “The Rain in Portugal,” “Horoscopes for the Dead,” “Ballistics,” “Nine Horses,” “Sailing Alone Around the Room,” and more. He is also the editor of “Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry,” “180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day,” and “Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds.” His most recent collection, “Whale Day,” was released in September of 2020. A former Distinguished Professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York, Collins was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2016.

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