William “Billy” Collins (born 22 March 1941) is an American poet. He served two terms as the Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. In his home state, Collins has been recognized as a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library (1992) and selected as the New York State Poet for 2004. He was recently appointed Claire Berman Artist in Residence at The Roxbury Latin School, in West Roxbury, MA. He is a distinguished professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York.
Collins was born in New York City to William and Katherine Collins. He attended Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains and received a B.A. degree from the College of the Holy Cross in 1963 and received his M.A. and Ph.D in English from the University of California, Riverside. He was a student of Victorian Scholar and poet Robert Peters at Riverside. Collins is a distinguished professor of English at Lehman College in the Bronx, where he joined the faculty in 1968 and has taught for over thirty years. Additionally, he is a founding Advisory Board member of the CUNY Institute for Irish-American Studies at Lehman College. He also has taught and served as a visiting writer at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, New York. Collins was named U.S. Poet Laureate in 2001 and held the title until 2003. Collins served as Poet Laureate for the State of New York from 2004 until 2006.
As U.S. Poet Laureate, Collins read his poem "The Names" at a special joint session of the United States Congress on September 6, 2002, held to remember the victims of the 9/11 attacks.