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. Though, unlike their British counterparts, U.S. poets laureate are not asked or expected to write occasional poetry, Collins was asked by the Librarian of Congress to write a poem especially for that event. Collins initially refused to read "The Names" in public, though he has read it two times in public since 2002. He vows not to include it in any of his books, refusing to capitalize in any way on the 9/11 attacks. However, "The Names" was included in the The Poets Laureate Anthology, put out by the Library of Congress, for which Collins wrote the foreword. The only published version of "The Names," it contains a number of regrettable typographical errors. As Poet Laureate, Collins instituted the program Poetry 180 for high schools. Collins chose 180 poems for the program and the accompanying book, Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry-- one for each day of the school year. Collins edited a second anthology, 180 More Extraordinary Poems for Every Day to refresh the supply of available poems. The program is online, and poems are available there for no charge.
Julianna Baggott is the author of many books and her work has appeared in dozens of publications, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Best American Poetry 2000, 180 More Extraordinary Poems for Everyday (ed. Billy Collins), The Southern Review, TriQuarterly, Virginia Quarterly Review, Poetry, Glamour, Ms. Magazine, and has been read on NPR's Talk of the Nation. Her books have received critical acclaim from reviewers and fellow authors alike.