A History of Small Life on a Windy Planet: Poems (Contemporary Poets)

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9780820315058: A History of Small Life on a Windy Planet: Poems (Contemporary Poets)

Martha Collins's third book of poems, "A History of Small Life on a Windy Planet", was chosen by David Ignatow in 1990 for the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay Di Castagnola work-in-progress award. Citing the "jazz staccato" with which Collins "presents our lives and loves in their perpetual and rapid transformations", Ignatow praised the collection for its "unique ability to fix each passing phase of a swiftly moving rootless society in triumphant style". Collins's book testifies to the integrity of an artist who has seen a great deal of the world. The collection is filled with variety, yet the poems are also engaged with one another, as if braided together. There is a sense of urgency throughout, as the personal enters history and history invades the personal. If there are no easy answers to the questions Collins raises, there are, by the end of this quirky and incisive collection, some oblique comforts.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Collins's ( The Arrangement of Space ) stunning graphic poems achieve a perfect balance of the horrific and the playful. "We bought the guns, our money / burned the crops. / (But hey, kids, we're still / your folks--we name our planes / for girls, our bombs for boys)," she writes in one poem; another begins with the image of "the friendly caboose" passing through farmland and goes on to describe cattle cars carrying children to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps. With a few deft strokes, Collins endows the merely topical (the Gulf War, the news story about a murdered woman whose intestines were torn out) with universal dimensions. Poems rewriting fairy tales are every bit the equal of similar efforts by Anne Sexton. The intensity of all of Collins's poems might be their most memorable quality, but such fervor could not be realized if she did not have impeccable facility with language. She delights in wordplay: "The funeral march is a children's chant: /dum-dum-dum, he is dumb-and-done-and-gone." The volume's arrangement expertly juxtaposes related themes, resembling a focussed camera's panning, stopping now here, now there.
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Martha Collins
Published by Univ of Georgia Pr (1993)
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