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June 28, 2001

University Press author named U.S. poet laureate

A University of Pittsburgh Press author has been named the 11th U.S. Poet Laureate by the Library of Congress. Billy Collins will begin a one-year appointment in October when he opens the Library of Congress's annual literary series with a reading of his work.

Two recent poetry collections by Collins, "Picnic, Lightning" (1998) and "The Art of Drowning" (1995) were published by the University Press.

"We couldn't be happier to receive this news," said press director Cynthia Miller. "Billy is a terrific poet, and it's great that his voice has been recognized by the Library of Congress."

Collins, 59, is distinguished professor of English at Lehman College, City University of New York, and a writer-in-residence at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y.

He has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation.

Poet Laureate status carries a $35,000 stipend and use of an office at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Ed Ochester, Pitt Poetry Series editor, said, "The wonderful thing about Billy Collins is that, like Robert Frost, he combines a splendid sense of craft with the ability to reach ordinary readers outside the field of poetry."

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