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.
About the Author
Martha Collins is the author of Night Unto Night (Milkweed, 2018), Admit One: An American Scrapbook (Pittsburgh, 2016), Day Unto Day (Milkweed, 2014), White Papers (Pitt Poetry Series, 2012), and Blue Front (Graywolf, 2006), a book-length poem based on a lynching her father witnessed when he was five years old. Collins has also published four earlier collections of poems, three books of co-translations from the Vietnamese, and two chapbooks
Collins renders the most humbling, gorgeous, and inscrutable features of human existence as if they might be made legible. —Publishers Weekly, starred review
Musically brilliant, psychologically intricate, movingly humane—Martha Collins is one of our most vital poets.—Kevin Prufer
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. —AWP Chronicle
A longtime poet of sociopolitical engagement, Martha Collins has been mining the complexities of language and syntax for wordplay, precision, and multiplicity like no other contemporary American poet I can think of.—Wayne Miller