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A History of Small Life on a Windy Planet (University of Georgia, 1993)

A History of Small Life on a Windy Planet cover

Co-Winner of the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award. Published by the University of Georgia Press (1993) and re-issued in Some Things Words Can Do (1998)

About Some Things Words Can Do

Martha Collins's third book of poems, A History of Small Life on a Windy Planet, was chosen by David Ignatow in 1990 for the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay Di Castagnola work-in-progress award. Citing the "jazz staccato" with which Collins "presents our lives and loves in their perpetual and rapid transformations." Ignatow praised the collection for "its unique ability to fix each passing phase of a swiftly moving, rootless society in triumphant style."

Collins's wise and witty book testifies to the integrity of an artist who has seen a great deal of the world. The collection is filled with variety, yet the poems are also engaged with one another, as if braided together. There is a sense of urgency throughout, as the personal enters history, and history invades the personal. If there are no easy answers to the questions Collins raises, there are, by the end of the collection, some oblique comforts.

"In painfully exact, meticulously direct verse, Collins explores the connections between self and world in an increasingly conflicted time. The very first poem, The Border, exemplifies her ability to capture the ambiguities and urgencies of this life. . . . Collins has a . . . voice filled with a sense of dire emergency. This is an unrelenting book."


"A virtuoso display of craft weaving political and all sorts of other purposes."

—June Jordan, Ms.

"In A History . . . the boundaries of consciousness and selfhood have become wonderfully porous, allowing the world—in all its raucous, distracting, surprising transformations—to come rushing in. . . . This is writing of the highest order."

—Fred Marchant, Boston Review

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