U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins Opens “The Poets of CUNY” At Metropolitan Museum

October 9, 2002 | The University

Poet Laureate of the United States Billy Collins, Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College, opened the first in a series of “CUNY is Reading” events with a lecture and poetry reading, “The Poets of CUNY,” October 15 at the Metropolitan Museum.

A new City University of New York program to promote literature, “CUNY is Reading” this year features poetry, highlighting the prominent poets who teach throughout CUNY. The initiative is being integrated into the curriculum to increase interest in, and appreciation of, reading and writing poetry. Among those who attended the event were 200 CUNY Honors College students. One of their textbooks will be Billy Collins’ new book, “Sailing Alone Around the Room.”

Professor Collins, who was named for a second term as Poet Laureate this year by the Librarian of Congress, has made young people’s appreciation of poetry one of the cornerstones of his tenure. He started a website (www.loc.gov/poetry/180), a poem-a-day syllabus for high school students, and urged schools to read the poems aloud over the public address systems.

Chancellor Matthew Goldstein, Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Louise Mirrer, and Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs, Kate Levin, welcomed the audience to the Poets of CUNY event.

Among the prominent faculty attending were poet Grace Schulman, Baruch College Distinguished Professor of English; Distinguished Professor of Music at Lehman College John Corigliano, composer of the opera “Ghost of Versailles” and librettist William Hoffman; and poet Peter Gray of Queensborough Community College.

The event, held in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium of the Metropolitan Museum, was also attended by hundreds of students from the University and greater New York communities.