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Center for the Arts Presents Aimee Mann and Billy Collins

In a world premiere event, Oscar-nominated songwriter and indie music star Aimee Mann will team join former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins for an evening of acoustic music and spoken word/poetry at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Apr. 16, at Smothers Theatre. 

Mann always provides her fans with well-crafted music and lyrics that reflect her wry worldview. Collins sees his poetry as "a form of travel writing" and considers humor "a door into the serious"--a door that thousands of readers have opened with amazement and delight.

The two met at a 2011 White House event honoring the art of American poetry and now join forces for an evening celebrating the perspective and reflection that comes from a writer's eye.

Tickets, priced at $20, $40, and $45 for the public and $10 for full-time Pepperdine students, are available now by calling (310) 506-4522 or on the Center for the Arts website.

Collins will be available to sign books following the performance.

The Pepperdine performance is the first of three California stops they will make, including the University of California Santa Barbara Arts and Lectures Series on Thursday, Apr. 17, and the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa on Friday, Apr. 18.

Additionally, Collins will make a special appearance for Pepperdine students at a question-and-answer session in the Surfboard Room at the Pepperdine library from 12 noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Apr. 16. The event is free and open to the public, with admission limited to 100 people.

Aimee Mann

Aimee Mann

From her work in the '80s with MTV favorite 'Til Tuesday through her acclaimed solo discs Whatever and I'm with Stupid in the '90s, Aimee Mann has always been at the forefront of contemporary songwriters. The close of the millennium brought her greatest success, with the simultaneous releases of Bachelor No. 2 and the soundtrack to the film Magnolia, which garnered nominations for an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and three Grammys.

From "Voices Carry" to the Oscar-nominated "Save Me," Mann has always been known for her clever, literate, and dryly witty takes on emotional sabotage and self-destruction. Though happily married to Michael Penn (with whom she has toured extensively in a double-billed "Acoustic Vaudeville"), her fascination continues with "the freaks who could never love anyone." With a songcraft often compared with the Beatles and Badfinger, Mann frequently pairs the bleakest of poetry with soaring, infectious melodies.

Charmer, her latest album, is as fine a chronicler of the human comedy as popular music has produced. "The first song I wrote for the album was called 'Charmer,' so that's kind of what started it . . . Charm is on a continuum that goes all the way from people who can talk you out of anything to people who are manipulative to people who are almost a little sinister," Mann says. "They're usually people who you really like being around in the beginning, because they're really good at creating an impression that perhaps is tailor-made for you, and that's very seductive."

Looking ahead, Mann and musician Ted Leo have joined forces for a collaborative project they call The Both. The duo's self-titled debut will be released April 15 via SuperEgo Records.

In 2011 Mann was invited not only to do a fictional Portland couple's housecleaning, but also to join a Pennsylvania Avenue couple at the White House. She was part of a day the Obamas devoted to celebrating poetry. It shook her up, in a good way.

The White House confab "had a really big impact, way bigger than I expected. Don't get me wrong, I knew it was a big gig. But I also didn't think it would have this big spiritual impact on me. Hearing the poets talk was really inspiring and honestly made me think totally differently about the purpose of art, which I think heretofore I thought was just a nice add-on if everything else is taken care of--like, a fun little frill for life. But I started to realize there's something more essential about art, and it's kind of the thing that makes the difference from being just a group, like a herd, to being a civilization."

Billy Collins

Billy Collins
United States Poet Laureate, 2001-2003

Billy Collins is an American phenomenon. No poet since Robert Frost has managed to combine high critical acclaim with such broad popular appeal. His work has appeared in a variety of periodicals, including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The American Scholar. He is a Guggenheim fellow and a New York Public Library "Literary Lion."

His last three collections of poems have broken sales records for poetry. His readings are usually standing-room-only, and his audience--enhanced tremendously by his appearances on National Public Radio--includes people of all backgrounds and age groups. The poems themselves best explain this phenomenon. The typical Collins poem opens on a clear and hospitable note, but soon takes an unexpected turn; poems that begin in irony may end in a moment of lyric surprise.

Collins has published 10 collections of poetry, including Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, Picnic, Lightning, Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems, Nine Horses, The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems, Ballistics, and Horoscopes for the Dead. A collection of his haiku, titled She Was Just Seventeen, was published by Modern Haiku Press in 2006.

He has also published two chapbooks, Video Poems and Pokerface. In addition, he has edited two anthologies of contemporary poetry: Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry and 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, was the guest editor of The Best American Poetry 2006, and edited Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems about Birds, with paintings by David Allen Sibley (2009). His most recent book is Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems 2003-2013.

Included among the honors Collins has received are fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He has also been awarded the Oscar Blumenthal Prize, the Bess Hokin Prize, the Frederick Bock Prize, and the Levinson Prize--all awarded by Poetry magazine. In 2004 Collins was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Poetry Foundation's Mark Twain Prize for Humor in Poetry. In 2013 he was selected as the fourth winner of the Donald Hall-Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry.

In 2001 Collins was appointed United States Poet Laureate 2001-2003. In 2004 he was named New York State Poet Laureate 2004-2006.

He is a Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York, as well as a Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute at Rollins College.


Boundless Horizons