Stylistically innovative, deeply moving, carefully researched, Martha Collins’s eleventh volume of poetry combines her well-known attention to social issues with the elegiac mode of her previous book. She focuses here on race, gun violence, recent wars, and, in an extended sequence, the history of coal—first as her ancestors mined it, then from its geological origins to our ecologically threatened present. Casualty Reports is both indictment and lament, a work that speaks forcefully to our troubled history and our present times.
The poems shine a light on the casual cruelties the powerful inflict upon the vulnerable, the exploitation, the inhumanity, the total lack of empathy. . . . The tone is necessarily elegiac but the verse is written in a style that is at once allusive and expository, suggestive and explicit.
Past praise for Martha Collins: Collins renders the most humbling, gorgeous, and inscrutable features of human existence as if they might be made legible.
Diverse poetic forms highlight the beauty of diversity itself. But Collins never lets up on the driving themes of unethical treatment and collective culpability.
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.