- Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
- Available in: Paperback
- ISBN: 978-0-8229-6591-6
- Published: October 1, 2019
More Poems from this Book
Five poems from Because What Else Could I Do in Plume Poetry
Because What Else Could I Do won the 2020 Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award. The judge was Alice Fulton, whose citation is quoted in the link.
The book is a sequence of fifty-five untitled short poems, almost all of them addressed to the poet’s husband during the six months following his sudden and shocking death. Perhaps best known for her historical explorations of sociopolitical issues, Martha Collins did not originally intend to publish these poems. But while they are intensely personal, they make use of all of her poetic attention and skills. Spare, fragmented, musical even in their most heartbreaking moments, the poems allow the reader to share both an intimate expression the poet’s grief and a moving record of her attempt to comprehend the events surrounding her loss.
In this deeply personal book . . . 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.
— Barbara Egel, Booklist
Martha Collins is a weaver of emotion . . . meticulously describing grief in a beautiful, heart-wrenching way. Because What Else Could I Do will leave readers captivated.
— Lynda Wheat, Rain Taxi
Visually delicate and emotionally substantial . . . spare and beautiful . . . — Sarah Sarai, Heavy Feather Review
I alone in a restaurant and what is left of you at home in a plastic box on your dresser where you kept your socks and put your change— and what will I do at home in my own house, what will I do with my one spoon and my wide bed, what will I do without without 40
paper bag with empty box with almost empty plastic bag and on my hands and on my jeans you some part or parts of you from when we sent you into the sea low tide so you easily rode the lightest currents in tiny explosions of white and when we finished a sudden late sun on the water of which you were becoming a part on runnels between patches of sand as if you were signing yourself in silver