Billy Collins was born in New York City. His recent books of poetry include: Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems (2013), Horoscopes for the Dead: Poems (2012); and Ballistics: Poems (2008). The Art of Drowning (1995) was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Questions About Angels (1991) was selected for the National Poetry Series.
Collins’s poetry has appeared in many periodicals, the Pushcart Prize anthology and the Best American Poetry series. Collins edited Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry (2003) and Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems about Birds (2009). He was guest editor for The Best American Poetry (2006).
Collins served as U.S. Poet Laureate (2001—2003) and New York State Poet Laureate (2004—2006). His many awards include: the Mark Twain Prize for Humor in Poetry, the Bess Hokin Prize, the Frederick Bock Prize, the Aiken-Taylor Award in Modern American Poetry, and the Mailer Prize for Poetry.
Collins received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 1992, he served as the New York Public Library’s “Literary Lion”.
He is a Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York. In 2016, he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters.