In this deeply personal book (initially not intended for publication), poet Collins (Admit One, 2016) steps away from her usual explorations of the larger social circumstances in which we live—and the pain they cause—to explore the pain of her husband’s death. This collection reads like a short story with an emergent plot that includes a last-minute twist. Many of the poems stand on their own beautifully, such as “I alone in a restaurant,” but the collection should be read all of a piece and in order. Collins captures the variations in the voice of grief: confusion, despair, irony, and talismanic attention to small details. These poems are stripped and spare; they read almost like erasure poems or like listening in on the poet talking to herself only half aloud. Structurally, some poems nearly dissolve into the white space of the page, requiring careful rereading, while others knot and reknot themselves around a single word. This small book urgently and unflinchingly captures the shock and reverberation of unexpected grief.
Because What Else Could I Do is a sequence of fifty-five untitled short poems, almost all of them addressed to my husband following his unexpected death in 2016. I wrote them for him, for his abiding presence—and I wrote them for myself. At the time, I had no intention of publishing them. But the book will be published in the Pitt Poetry Series in September.
I will be teaching a week-long workshop this summer from June 23-29 in Chautauqua, New York. See the Events page of this website for information.
A Radiance of Attention: Jane Cooper, a collection of essays about the poet Jane Cooper (1924-2007) was published on April 15, 2019. The book, which includes essays and reviews by 31 writers, was edited by Martha Collins and Celia Bland.
In November-December 2018, Martha Collins had a month-long residency at the Women’s International Study Center in Santa Fe, NM, to work on a new book of poetry.
See more at the WISC website