Students, staff and members of the public packed into the SPC Music Center on Tuesday, March 12, for a live poetry reading by 2001-03 U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins.
A crowd of 254 people filled the music center at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus to listen to Collins. Some said they traveled from out of county and even out of state to hear the award-winning poet. After reading his poems, Collins answered many questions about his work and inspiration.
Collins is the author of eight collections of poetry including Ballistics, The Trouble with Poetry, Nine Horses, Sailing Alone Around the Room, Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, and Picnic.
“He’s got the ‘common man’ pretty well all together, and he represents all of us,” said Al Svoboda, who drove from Sumter County with his wife, Jill, to see Collins. They learned about his poetry reading in the Tampa Bay Times. “As soon as we heard that he would be coming, we came running.”
Collins’ presentation was a collaborative effort by the SPC Communications Department and the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus Student Government Association, which funded the event. He also spoke later that day at the Palladium Theater.
The St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus SGA also funded presentations by Garth Stein, author of SPC’s One Book, One College selection The Art of Racing in the Rain. Stein spoke at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus Music Center Tuesday evening. Several who attended Collins’ noon presentation also said they also were interested in seeing Stein.
Bed and breakfast owner Grace Diaz-Tubbs, who sat with her sister, Rita Diaz-Kenney, was one of them.
“I read about Garth Stein’s book and was fascinated by the storytelling,” said Diaz-Tubbs, who flew in from Williamsburg, Va., to hear Collins and Stein. “We came in for these events specifically.”
See more photos from the event on the college’s Facebook page.