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Billy Collins – Sunken Garden Poetry Festival

June 21, 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Join us for Opening Night of the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival’s 25th Anniversary Season

5 pm          Prelude Interview with Billy Collins and Colin McEnroe
6 pm          Plywood Cowboy performs
6:30 pm     Special Reading by Connecticut State Poet Laureate Rennie McQuilkin
6:45 pm     Introduction by Colin McEnroe
7 pm          Billy Collins performs
7:45 pm     Plywood Cowboy performs
7:45 pm     Book signing

For additional Poetry Events, see our Calendar.


  • Tickets for opening night featuring Billy Collins are $20 advance online, $25 at the gate, free for those under 18.
  • Tickets for subsequent nights are $12 advance online, $15 at the gate.


  • Please carpool to the Poetry Festval. Parking will fill to capacity.
  • Beginning at 4 pm, we will run a shuttle bus to and from the parking lot of a local business park located at 1690 New Britain Avenue in Farmington – just minutes away from Hill-Stead.
  • Once Hill-Stead’s lots are filled, visitors must park in the shuttle lot at 1690 New Britain Avenue in Farmington or find parking within walking distance of the Festival. Pay close attention to “no parking” signs on side streets and park only where it is legal and safe to do so.


  • Pay attention to the weather.
  • In the event of steady rain, the festival takes place under an event tent in Hill-Stead’s Kitchen Garden. In that case, we would expect an overflow of visitors, so please dress in layers and grab an umbrella and poncho if rain is predicted.
  • This event is rain or shine – there will be no refunds issued for weather.



  • Food, wine and other beverages may also be purchased on site from gourmet food vendors.
  • Iron & Grain Co. and Avon Prime Meats will be located on the front lawn.
  • Culteavo in The Tea Room located on the east side of the Garden in the Stone Garage.
  • A bartender will be serving red and white wine in the Garden.
  • Festival attendees are welcome to bring their own picnic suppers.

Billy Collins Sunken Garden Poetry FestivalBilly Collins is the author of ten collections of poetry, including Horoscopes for the Dead, Ballistics, The Trouble with Poetry, Nine Horses, Sailing Alone Around the Room, Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning and Picnic, Lightning. He is also the editor of Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry, 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day and Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds. A Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York, and Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Winter Park Institute of Rollins College, he was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003 and Poet Laureate of New York State from 2004 to 2006.

Rennie MRenniecQuilkin
is Poet Laureate of Connecticut. He has taught English and Creative Writing at secondary schools including Phillips Academy (Andover), The Loomis-Chaffee School and Miss Porter’s School. In 1992 he co-founded the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, which he directed for nine years at Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, CT. His poetry has appeared in The Atlantic, Poetry, The American Scholar, The Southern Review, The Yale Review, The Hudson Review and many other publications. The author of fourteen poetry collections, he has received a number of poetry awards, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, the Connecticut Center for the Book’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and its 2010 poetry award for The Weathering: New and Selected Poems. His most recent books are Going On: New and Collected Poems and A Quorum of Saints. McQuilkin is currently the publisher of Antrim House Books. He lives in Simsbury, CT, where he is the local Poet Laureate.

Music byPlywood Cowboy Plywood Cowboy.  Bottle fed on roots music, multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter Steve Dedman and his band, Plywood Cowboy strike deep at the soul of American music with songs about hound dogs, heart strings and the vice of the bottle. The band has just released their debut album, Channel 33.

Thank you to our sponsors!


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