Thursday, April 24, 2014

Excerpt from Martha Collins
New Collection Day Unto Day


      October 2004


Not much. Less. Slip
of a finger, diminished
interval, maybe third

of three or two.

Water mirrors house with high
green door opening out (no

steps) into pure air.


Air pockets three
hawks. Cat got
the bird got the cat.

Overflown. A habit
of flight. Worn cloud
on the edge of edge.

Wisps. Little tongues.


Tongues at work. Talk Today

She could did for an hour or more.
My first her, who gave me words.

Then at the end, before, merely Oh!

A moment of . . . of more, perhaps.

Oh sweet and bless├Ęd could be.

Oh my soul


Soul slept, called in sick.

Late sun clouds
the lake with clouds.

Katydid down
to –did –did.

Nothing to be done.

Little sun, quarter moon.


Moon covered, un-
covered, covered again, cold.

Cold and hot, very and both.

Disturbed the Sea of Tranquility.

Distributed by the Moon Shop.

Distributed self in pieces.

Oh my broken.


Broken down, or out, as in
war, or into, soon: my own him.

How much we carry around
under our skins, many
we were, girls and boys

Now now

And then then.


Then gone and then to come:
all the time, except the split
second, except—

All the time in the world.

And out of this world?

Oh little heart on my wrist,
where are we going?

Reprinted from Day Unto Day (Milkweed Press) by permission of the poet.

Interview with Martha Collins

Please tell Poetry of Recovery blog readers how your new collection came about.

I began the book in 2004, and I wrote daily during a different month each year until I finally finish all twelve months. The first six parts of this project were just published as Day Unto Day by Milkweed Press this past March. I have two more months to go to complete the second half.

Who are your favorite poets or poets new to you whom you'd recommend to others?

As I said in a recent interview, I’ve been reading a lot of African American poetry lately, partly because of the writing I’ve been doing (see below). Beyond older poets like Carl Phillips and Marilyn Nelson, I’m been impressed enough with recent books by Thomas Sayers Ellis, Evie Shockley, Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, and Major Jackson to review them in print.

Emily Dickinson and Wallace Stevens—and the Bible!—were early influences. Later John Ashbery gave me a kind of stylistic license (though my writing is nothing like his), and poets like Denise Levertov, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Muriel Rukeyser allowed me to pursue the kind of subject matter that is reflected in my recent books.

Martha Collins

What are you working on now?

My book Day Unto Day, just released, followed soon after my collection White Papers, which was a kind of follow-up to my book-length poem Blue Front. Two of my books focus on race: Blue Front on a lynching my father witnessed, White Papers more broadly on issues of race as seen from a critical white perspective. A friend once suggested that I must be writing some kind of trilogy, and I am working on a manuscript that might in some sense follow these two—-not focused so narrowly on race, but perhaps related in some way. Or perhaps not related at all.

Martha Collins is the author of Day Unto Day (Milkweed, 2014), White Papers (Pitt Poetry Series, 2012) and the book-length poem Blue Front (Graywolf, 2006), which won an Anisfield-Wolf Award. She has also published four earlier collections of poems and three collections of co-translated Vietnamese poetry, most recently Black Stars: Poems by Ngo Tu Lap (Milkweed, 2013, with the author). Other awards include fellowships from the NEA, Bunting Institute, Witter Bynner Foundation, and Ingram Merrill Foundation, as well as three Pushcart Prizes and a Lannan Foundation residency. Pauline Delaney Professor of Creative Writing at Oberlin until 2007, Collins is currently editor-at-large for FIELD magazine and one of the editors of the Oberlin College Press.

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