Billy Collins

Folger Poetry Board Reading

Monday, May 10, 2021, 7:30 pm
Virtual Reading | 7:30pm-9pm Eastern Time
Free, registration required
Each year, the Folger Poetry Board, supporters of the O.B Hardison Poetry series, selects a distinguished poet to share their favorite poems from other poets and to read from their own work. This year's Folger Poetry Board reader is Billy Collins, named “the most popular poet in America” by The New York Times and a former United States Poet Laureate.

He is the author of several volumes of poetry, most recently Whale Day, and his many honors and awards include the Poetry Foundation’s Mark Twain Award for Humor in Poetry.

Collins follows in the steps of noted poets Seamus Heaney, Rita Dove, Octavio Paz, Gwendolyn Brooks, former British Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion, and current British Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, all former Folger Poetry Board Readers, a designation which began in 1991 with Mr. Heaney.

From Introduction to Poetry

…I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore…

Excerpt from Billy Collins, Introduction to Poetry from The Apple that Astonished Paris. Copyright ©1988, 1996 by Billy Collins. Reprinted with the permission of the University of Arkansas Press.


This reading is co-sponsored by the Folger Shakespeare Library and The National Gallery of Art.


Purchase Your Copy

The O.B. Hardison Poetry Series is pleased to partner with East City Bookshop, an independently run, women owned bookstore on Capitol Hill. Pickup is available at the shop, or they ship (almost) anywhere! Check their website,

We recommend purchasing a copy of the poet’s work prior to the reading so that you can follow along with the reading from your home.