"The other day as I was ricocheting slowly..."

Billy Collins

The Lanyard

Billy Collins has distinguished himself through his clear, accessible poetry–and by reinterpreting many traditional poetic forms. His poem "Sonnet" begins "All we need is fourteen lines, well, thirteen now." Collins has spoken out against the over-interpretation of poetry, as well as the writing of poetry strictly for an academic audience. As United States Poet Laureate (2001-03), he created a poetry collection called "Poetry 180," a project whose aim was to increase poetry's popularity among teens by exposing them to a meaningful contemporary poem each day of the school year. Although its accessibility is in part responsible for the popularity of Collins's work, humor, irony, and ambiguity also play an important role. The poet Stephen Dunn once wrote of Collins's appeal, "We seem to always know where we are in a Billy Collins poem, but not necessarily where he is going."

To read this and other poems by Billy Collins, as well as biographical information about the poet, please visit the Poetry Foundation Web site.