Split This Rock Poem of the Week

Martha Collins
6 Nov 15

Martha Collins‘ tempered poem “RACE/RACE” is Poem of the Week. 
This is part of the countdown of poems by poets to feature at Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2016. Keep an eye out for other poems by festival featured poets as we approach April 14-17!
If you would like to help with preparation or running of the festival, please see Split This Rock’s Get Involved Page for details. This small effective crew needs to be come a larger effective crew very quickly!



stock     strain     family     line

breed     blood     skin     shape

of the head     of the pack

animal     human     judge


better     fitter     swiftly

to find     foot     horse     car     run

for your life     around

town     the block     the camp


to the top     the finish     contend

compete     in     for     against

the other     the not so

great     not even in the

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This poem was first published by Prairie Schooner, and will be published in Collins’ forthcoming collection Admit One: An American Scrapbook from Pitt Poetry Series in 2016. Used with permission. Photo by Doug Macomber.   
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Martha Collins‘ eighth book of poetry, Admit One: An American Scrapbook(Pittsburgh, 2016), follows White Papers (2012) and the book-length poemBlue Front (2006) in combining careful research with innovative poetic techniques to explore disturbing aspects of America’s history, including race and racism. Described by the AWP Chronicle as “a dazzling poet whose poetry is poised at the juncture between the lyric and ethics,” Collins has also published four collections of co-translated Vietnamese poetry and (among other books of poetry) Day Unto Day, a 2014 collection of “calendar” poems. Her awards include fellowships from the NEA, the Bunting Institute, and the Siena Art Institute, as well as three Pushcart Prizes, a 2013 Best American Poetry award, and an Anisfield-Wolf Award. Founder of the creative writing program at UMass-Boston, she served as Pauline Delaney Professor of Creative Writing at Oberlin College for ten years and as Distinguished Visiting Writer at Cornell University in 2010. She is currently editor-at-large for FIELDmagazine and one of the editors of the Oberlin College Press. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Learn more at Collins’ website.
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Please feel free to share Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this post, including this request. Thanks!
To read more poems of provocation and witness, please visit The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database at SplitThisRock.org.
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We strive to preserve the text formatting of poems over e-mail, but certain e-mail programs may distort how characters, fonts, indents, and line wraps appear.
If you have difficulty reading this poem, please visit the poem at our site.

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