Billy Collins, the writer the New York Times once dubbed “the most popular poet in America,” will read his poetry at the 25th Annual B. Christopher Bothe Memorial Lecture at McDaniel College on May 4.
Currently a distinguished English professor at Lehman College in the Bronx, Collins has received an array of lifetime achievement awards in poetry including, but not limited to Poetry Magazine’s Poet of the Year, two US Poet Laureate honors, and Mark Twain Award for Humor in Poetry.
McDaniel College President Roger Casey has been a friend of Collins since their time spent together at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, where Collins journeyed to visit a mutual friend and, eventually, to read at an art opening. Casey even was “drafted” as a stand-in photographer and took a series of photos of Collins when the college photographer was a no show.“I’m used to shooting landscapes and birds—I’ve found that humans are not my forte,” said Casey.
When asked by McDaniel professors if Casey knew of a poet to read at the annual Bothe Memorial Lecture, “I instantly thought of Billy, (I) knew he would be the perfect person to help the College celebrate the 25th anniversary lecture,” Casey said. “There is a fascinating spark to Billy—he is a phenomenal reader,” said Casey. “He has a fabulous deadpan droll with a unique sense of humor.” English Professor at McDaniel Dr. Kathy Mangan has also played an intricate role in leading the organization of May’s reading. When asked her reaction to Casey’s offer of bringing Billy Collins to McDaniel— her response was what she described as a much emphatic “Wow… yes!”
Since, Mangan has been working non-stop to prepare everything from seating arrangements to plant decorations on stage. Mangan attests her excitement not only to her personal love for Collins’ work but also the thrill for poetry his reading will bring the College and Westminster community in attendance. Casey and Mangan have no doubt that Collins will connect with audience members . “Collins’ accessibility as a poet will make skeptics folds,” Mangan said. “He is an enormously engaging reader and a proven entertainer.” Mangan even went on to call Collins a “contemporary philosopher.”
The Collins Buzz is undeniable. Joyce Muller, Associate Vice President for communications and marketing at McDaniel, has advertised the event on radio, and in local magazines. Additionally, Billy Collins posters and flyers are splashed around the college campus and town. Favorite Collins’ poems circulating around the community: “The Lanyard” and “Forgetfulness.” 25th Annual B. Christopher Bothe Memorial Lecture is set for Wednesday, May 4 in McDaniel College Theatre at Alumni Hall.