US poet Laureate Billy Collins was in the North Country Thursday, August 21, 2003 to read his poetry, take audience questions, and sign books in the Clayton Opera House. The event, billed as "An Intimate Evening with Billy Collins," was sponsored (and introduced) by Bob Purcell as part of the centennial celebration of the historic hall overlooking one of the classic views of the Thousand Islands.
About 200 people gathered in the bunting-decked opera house to hear Collins, who is nearing the end of his term as poet laureate, an honor bestowed by the Library of Congress. Response was enthusiaistic to his work, which is notable for its clarity as well as a self-effacing sense of humor. Collins is a fine performer, with a relaxed and well-paced style, and gave the audience an experience that lived up to the billing "intimate."