Because What Else Could I Do 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.
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. . . . This small book urgently and unflinchingly captures the shock and reverberation of unexpected grief.
These poems welcome the coming of wisdom that follows great sorrow.
Martha Collins is a weaver of emotion, and she spends a great deal of time meticulously describing grief in a beautiful, heart wrenching way. Because What Else Could I Do will leave readers captivated by love.
A dazzling poet whose poetry is poised at the juncture between the lyric and ethics. Those who have followed Collins’ books have long since realized that no subject is off limits for her piercing intellect.
Readers of Collins’s extensive oeuvre will recognize a richly textured poetics. Collins reminds us, as our best poets do, of the layered complexities of lived experience.
Visually delicate and emotionally substantial, the fifty-five poems in Martha Collins’ tenth collection, Because What Else Could I Do, interrogate the expectation inherent in connection, here, the poet’s with her husband, whose death set up a barrier to comprehension.
Martha Collins is the author of nine previous books of poetry, including Admit One: An American Scrapbook, White Papers, and the book-length poem Blue Front, as well as the paired volumes Night Unto Night and Day Unto Day.Collins has also published four volumes of co-translated Vietnamese poetry, and co-edited Into English: Poems, Translations, Commentaries. Founder of the Creative Writing Program at U.Mass-Boston and Pauline Delaney Professor of Creative Writing at Oberlin College for ten years, she currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.