Day Unto Day
Martha Collins offers haunting reflections on time and other subjects in Day Unto Day, a spare and subtle seventh collection. The book consists of six sequences: during one month each year, for six years, Collins wrote a short poem each day. With perfectly distilled lines, she captures the aching, liminal beauty of one day becoming another—the slow burn of time passing, the ambiguity of an “old / new leaf” turning over, even as she collages a wide range of material that includes often disturbing news of the world.
Writing in the tradition of poetic meditation, Collins shows us the full degree of her mastery—a mature voice, poems with tremendous scope, and lines exceptionally controlled. Day Unto Day is the work of a poet at the height of her career.
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Praise and Prizes
“The themes here of love, parents’ dyings and deaths, a beloved’s illness, our seasons, and our wars sometimes break into lyric notes to the narrative. Notes perhaps of the subconscious, sometimes suggestive, sometimes unsolvable. Not meant maybe to be solved. Which in this poet’s hands fit the subject of mortality: notes like little lights which sometimes sound like prayer.”
“Day Unto Day is lovely, important, central work, of an order of import like the 20th century’s great meditations on time, from Hardy’s elegies to Eliot’s Four Quartets. . . . [These] are poems of high seriousness, a contemporary mind speaking to itself, folding back, plaiting idioms, turning things over.”
“These poetic sequences can’t help but engage with the idea of time, with the immediacy of the past in our lives—but they are also much more than this. Martha Collins delves into the shiftiness of gender, the power of romantic love, the nature of the divine, the troubles of American national identity, and the certainty of mortality. Musically brilliant, psychologically intricate, movingly humane—Collins is one of our most vital poets.”
“There is a difference between poems and poetry and Martha Collins knows it. Day Unto Day is a diary, a calendar, an artistic intervention taking the ordinary into the extraordinary for great generous intent—a quotidian preparation for human Being. Its pleasure is that of ‘attention’ and its attentions are intellectual, sonic, architectural and deeply spiritual.”
“The author of six poetry collections and three books of cotranslations from the Vietnamese and long a distinguished teacher of creative writing, Martha Collins has earned the right to be meditative about the passage of time. This book collects work done during one month each year, for six years, when Collins wrote a short poem each day.”