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Martha Collins

Martha Collins is the author of four collections of poems, the most recent of which is Some Things Words Can Do (Sheep Meadow, 1999). She has also co-translated, with the author, The Women Carry River Water, a collection of poems by Vietnamese poet Nguyen Quang Thieu which was published by UMass in 1997 and won an award from the American Literary Translators Association. Other awards include fellowships from the NEA, the Bunting Institute, the Lannan Foundation, and the Witter Bynner Foundation, as well as three Pushcart Prizes. Collins founded the Creative Writing Program at UMass-Boston, and since 1997 has taught at Oberlin College, where she is Pauline Delaney Professor of Creative Writing and one of the editors of FIELD. She has recently completed a book-length poem called Blue Front, and has a collection of co-translations of poems by Vietnamese poet Lam Thi My Da in press with Curbstone.


The Bread on My Table

Bread, you said, on a plain table. Spare scene. Bare room. Like a painting, you said, neutral tones, waiting for someone, brown study in need of color, life, a house, a yard. But here the houses too are brown, the land is flat, kept in line by strai [...]

Out of My Own Pocket

Light drifts from the stalled Aegean ships to the bare table where pages rise in a brief breeze, then fall, opened palms after a prayer. What is required this time? Paid my dues. Pain was referred to another place. Point by point. Settled in by the [...]

More About the Bear

This winter I live in a small house at the edge of the tall woods. Brown trim. Latticed windows. Rosy curtains that glow, late in the day, when I'm inside. Outside's snow, and black bears, who like honey, like all bears, and seeds and berries, and sl [...]

The Blue Room

In the blue room where I sleep the blue walls lean toward the blue ceiling. The blue bed drifts down the room but I am not sleeping. There are children's books at my feet, there are mysteries at my side, but they are not mine. The room is not mine. W [...]


Late afternoon, the eight-chimneyed building across the yard, clock on its gable, lights up, as if with fire, in every window. An excess: the sky is still light, or almost light, and something about that light, the white trim, the slate gray ro [...]


Deep in the hills, in the noon sun, through the white gate, through the white front door, up the stairs to the room, and the white dress— up the stairs, to the cupola, where the turning world—the trees, the hills, the hills beyond circum [...]