Collins is the author of 14 poetry collections, most recently Aimless Love. He was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. He is a Distinguished Professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York and is the Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute in Florida. Collins was recognized as a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library in 1992 and selected as the New York State Poet from 2004 to 2006. He is currently a teacher in the MFA program at Stony Brook Southampton.