Poet Martha Collins to Read at Wells

Acclaimed poet and editor is known for her writings on race in America.




7:00 p.m.


Art Exhibit Room, Macmillan Hall

General Info

Poet Martha Collins will give a reading of her work as part of Wells College’s Visiting Writers Series at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, November 1st, in the Art Exhibit Room of Macmillan Hall. This event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be provided.

Martha Collins is the author of six volumes of poetry and two collections of co-translated Vietnamese poetry. The recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, Ms. Collins founded the creative writing program at UMass-Boston, served as Pauline Delaney Professor of Creative Writing at Oberlin College until 2007 and was distinguished visiting writer at Cornell University in 2010. She is currently editor-at-large for FIELD magazine and one of the editors of the Oberlin College Press.

Her most recent books are “White Papers” (Pittsburgh, 2012) and the book-length poem “Blue Front” (Graywolf, 2006), which won an Anisfield-Wolf Award and was chosen as one of “25 Books to Remember from 2006” by the New York Public Library. “White Papers” is a series of untitled poems that deal with issues of race from a number of personal, historical and cultural perspectives. Expanding the territory of “Blue Front,” which focused on a 1909 lynching, in “White Papers” Collins addresses questions of what it means to be white in a multi-racial society that continues to live under the influence of its deeply racist past.

White Papers has been called “a praise song for the truth” that “bravely pulls back the covers of whiteness to offer us precious views of racial privilege” in a book of “innovative craft and startling honesty.” Another critic wrote: “The path of Martha Collins’ work—selflessly risky, formally innovative, profoundly social—has always been leading to ‘White Papers.’ These fierce, beautiful poems not only confront the illimitable issue of ‘whiteness’ itself, they are a breakthrough in the conversation we, with our fractured thinking about race, have yet to have. They defy the silences and insist nothing is unspeakable.”

Copies of the two books are available at Wells’ bookstore, and there is a display of Martha Collins’s work in the library. In honor of her visit, the Wells College Press will publish a letterpress broadside of one of her poems, which will be for sale at the reading.

Ms. Collins’s visit to Wells, which will include participation in workshops and classes, is made possible, in part, by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts.