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Sources: Elizabeth Dodd, 785-532-0384,;
and Karin Westman, 785-532-2190,
News release prepared by: Katie Mayes, 785-532-6415,

Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009


MANHATTAN -- Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins will kick off the department of English's 2009-2010 Visiting Writers Lecture Series at Kansas State University.

Collins will read from his body of work at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, in the ballroom of the K-State Alumni Center. The lecture is free and open; a book signing will follow.

Collins, a professor of English at Lehman College, a senior college of the City University of New York, has won numerous awards for his work, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and from the Guggenheim Foundation. He was the U.S. poet laureate from 2001-2003.

"We're delighted to be able to bring Billy Collins to K-State," said Elizabeth Dodd, professor of English and director of K-State's creative writing program. "He is a beloved poet and a witty writer. His poems so often reflect how much fun and enjoyment literature can be, but they refuse to take themselves, or him, or us -- the readers -- too seriously."

Karin Westman, head of K-State's department of English, said that Collins' ability and desire to bring poetry to the many rather than the few is what makes him such an appropriate speaker for K-State.

"Collins defies the cliche that poetry must be obscure or difficult in order to be thoughtful and engaging," she said. "Instead, he relies on humor, wit and everyday experiences to bring poetry to a wide audience."

His books include "Ballistics: Poems,"; "The Trouble with Poetry"; "Nine Horses: Poems"; "Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems"; "Picnic, Lightning"; "The Art of Drowning"; and "Questions About Angels." A selection of Collins' works will be available for purchase directly before and following the reading, courtesy of Claflin Books and Copies.

Collins' appearance is being sponsored by K-State's department of English, the office of the provost, K-State Libraries, Manhattan Public Library, Claflin Books and Copies, Kansas Association of Teachers of English and K-State's First-Year Seminar Program. The Student Governing Association's fine arts fees also support the series.

The next installment in the Visiting Writers Series will be a public reading by fiction writer Ann Pancake at 5:30 p.m. Friday, March 5, 2010, in Room 212 of the K-State Student Union. Additional information on the series is available at: