A U.S. Poet Laureate in Conversation

Billy Collins’ new collection, Whale Day and Other Poems, brings together more than fifty poems and showcases his deft mixing of the playful and the serious that has made him […]


A U.S. Poet Laureate in Conversation

Authors:Campbell McGrath, Billy Collins


Billy Collins’ new collection, Whale Day and Other Poems, brings together more than fifty poems and showcases his deft mixing of the playful and the serious that has made him one of our country’s most celebrated and widely read poets. Here are poems that leap with whimsy and imagination, yet stay grounded in the familiar, common things of everyday experience. Collins takes us for a walk with an impossibly ancient dog, discovers the original way to eat a banana, meets an Irish spider, and even invites us to his own funeral. Sensitive to the wonders of being alive as well as the thrill of mortality, Whale Day builds on and amplifies Collins’ reputation as one of America’s most interesting and durable poets.

Moderated by Campbell McGrath, Nouns & Verbs: New and Selected Poems.

Sponsored by:

Campbell McGrath

Campbell McGrath is the author of nine previous books. He has received numerous awards for his poetry, including a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has been published in publications such as New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, the Paris Review, the New Yorker, Poetry, and Ploughshares. His poetry is represented in dozens of anthologies. Deeply personal but also expansive in its imaginative scope, the collection Nouns & Verbs (Ecco) brings together thirty-five years of McGrath’s writing. He gives us startlingly inventive new poems while surveying his previous work—lyric poems, prose poems, and a personal epic, “An Odyssey of Appetite,” exploring America’s limitless material and spiritual hungers. Nothing is too large or small to remain untouched by McGrath’s voracious intellect and deep empathy as he investigates the enduring human experiences of love and loss. In a starred review, Booklist noted that “McGrath’s absorbing, amusing, and reflective traveling music entices us on the road yet again.”

Billy Collins

Billy Collins is the author of twelve prior collections of poetry including The Rain in Portugal, Aimless Love, Horoscopes for the Dead, Ballistics, and The Trouble with Poetry. 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. Collins served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003 and as New York State Poet from 2004 to 2006. Billy Collins’s new collection, Whale Day And Other Poems (Random House), brings together more than fifty poems and showcases his deft mixing of the playful and the serious. Here are poems that leap with whimsy and imagination, yet stay grounded in the familiar, common things of everyday experience. He takes us for a walk with an impossibly ancient dog, discovers the original way to eat a banana, meets an Irish spider, and even invites us to his own funeral. Whale Day is both sensitive to the wonders of being alive and the thrill of mortality.

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