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Blue Front: Poems

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  129 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
A stunning account of racism, mob violence, and cultural responsibility as rendered by the poet Martha Collins

the victim hanged, though not on a tree, this
was not the country, they used a steel arch
with electric lights, and later a lamppost, this
was a modern event, the trees were not involved.
—from "Blue Front"

Martha Collins's father, as a five-year-old, sold fruit outsid
Paperback, 84 pages
Published May 30th 2006 by Graywolf Press
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Dec 29, 2014 Zoé rated it really liked it
This is a rather difficult book to read, both for its subject and form. It is also a very satisfaying one if you take time and don't hurry through it. Definitely one of those books you go back to after a while and read many times.
Aug 06, 2012 Carolyn rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical, poetry
I picked this up as I had just read Richard Peck's "The River Between Us" -- also set in Cairo -- and I thought there might be some interesting resonances.

I didn't enjoy the choppy, fragmentary, unpunctuated blur of many of these poems -- apparently I enjoy her structured poetry more, although I wouldn't say that is necessarily the case -- and I thought there were times when trying to parse out this psuedo stream of consciousness really robbed the poems of their power.

There were some I enjoyed h
Karlo Mikhail
Sep 27, 2014 Karlo Mikhail rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Anti-racist tract in bricolage form.
Dec 24, 2008 Kent rated it really liked it
Collins has opened her own family history as a means of exploring racism. Even Cairo, IL seems to be the bigger statement here. And if Cairo, where else. And how else has it affected us. Perhaps this is where Collins wants to lead us. History is a narrative, and everyone seems to understand the inherent incompleteness of its argument (and even that it always seems to have some argument), but how is it that history actually influences people's lives. How does history make lynchings possible? Beca ...more
Jan 19, 2015 Ally rated it it was ok
Shelves: ipfw-fresh_14-15
Apr 02, 2013 Katlyn rated it liked it
I saw Martha Collins read at a local bookshop and was intrigued, so I picked up the book. I didn't find that the pauses and inflection she used in her reading were clearly marked by the printed work, which I consider a weakness. The "definition" poems (bury, shoot), scattered throughout, I find very interesting. However, her tendency to play with absences of language didn't always work and made the text feel too opaque in some places. I like the concept, and some of the execution.
This was a non-fiction-based, book length poem about the author's father witnessing a double lynching when he was 5 in Springfield, IL in 1909. I appreciated Collins using poetry to explore the history of racism in her family as well as culturally. I found the narrative's fragmentation a bit confusing, but it was well-written. Yay for anti-racist poetry!
Jake Adam
Feb 07, 2008 Jake Adam rated it really liked it
This book was slow to open on the most necessary work, to teach you its method before using it most seriously. The last third of the book is amazing, incredibly strong and searching. Be patient with this book: it will reward.
Jul 12, 2011 Emily rated it it was amazing
as a whole, one of my absolute favourite poetry books. the poems are cohesive and tell of a bigger picture, unlike many poetry collections which are only collections of various poems.
May 13, 2007 Andrea rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: poetry fans, people interested in racism's lingering effects
This book, in part, tells the story of Collins' father and a lynching he witnessed as a little boy. And, of course, her attempt to understand what her father saw and what happened in his town.
Lisa P
Apr 02, 2008 Lisa P rated it it was amazing
Somebody please read this! It's indescribable. I guess you have to at least appreciate poetry. If you do, this is such a unique and beautiful and haunting piece of work.
Feb 22, 2011 Danielle rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
This collection was different from anything I've ever read. If you like structure in poems, this is not the book for you.
Oct 14, 2007 Jenn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I'm writing a literary review of this book. It is unlike anything I've read, and quite excellent.
Dec 05, 2012 Barb rated it really liked it
Collins gives words to the unspeakable and creates beauty from ugliness.
Rebecca Cohen
Jan 06, 2009 Rebecca Cohen rated it really liked it
This is my first book of poetry and it was quite nice.
Jun 01, 2008 Ann-marie rated it it was amazing
Amazing and deft story, poem and social commentary
Jul 08, 2012 Brittany rated it it was amazing
An absolutely exquisite book of poetry.
Susan Sonnen
Apr 05, 2014 Susan Sonnen rated it it was amazing
Terse perfection.
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Martha Collins (born 1940 Omaha, Nebraska) is an American poet.

She graduated from Stanford University with a B.A., and the University of Iowa with a Ph.D.

She taught at University of Massachusetts Boston; she was the Pauline Delaney Chair in Creative Writing at Oberlin College.

She is editor of Field magazine. She is a member of International PEN.

(from Wikipedia)
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