White Papers

Collins continues the inquiry into race that shaped Blue Front (2006) here, in this startling and provocative collection, exploring the motif and myth of racial 'whiteness'. . . . Within the stark chromatic scale of black, white, and gray, Collins evokes a dazzling spectrum of palpable emotions, racial tensions, and unraveling binaries.
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Winner, 2013 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry

White Papers is a series of untitled poems that deal with issues of race from a number of personal, historical, and cultural perspectives. Expanding the territory of her 2006 book Blue Front, which focused on a lynching her father witnessed as a child, this book turns, among other things, to Martha Collins' childhood. Throughout, it explores questions about what it means to be white, not only in the poetÆs life, but also in our culture and history, even our pre-history. The styles and forms are varied, as are the approaches; some of the poems address race only implicitly, and the book, like Blue Front, includes some documentary and “found” material. But the focus is always on getting at what it has meant and what it means to be white—to have a race and racial history, much of which one would prefer to forget, if one is white, but all of which is essential to remember and to acknowledge in a multi-racial society that continues to live under the influence of its deeply racist past.

80 Pages, 6 x 9 in.

January, 2012

isbn : 9780822961840

about the author

Martha Collins

Martha Collins is the author of ten previous collections of poetry, most recently Because What Else Could I Do, which won the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award. Previous volumes include Blue Front, White Papers, Admit One: An American Scrapbook, and the paired volumes Day unto Day and Night unto Night. She has also cotranslated four volumes of Vietnamese poetry and coedited several anthologies.

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Martha Collins