Award-winning Poet Martha Collins Shares Her Poetry at Middlesex College 

April 19, 2023
Poet Martha Collins announcing the name of a student who won a copy of one
of her books. Photo by Doris Smith

A group of students and guests gathered in the Bedford Campus Café East at Middlesex Community College on Thursday, April 13 to hear multi-award-winning poet Martha Collins read from her latest book, Casualty Reports

This event was part of the college’s Visiting Writers Series, co-sponsored by the Creative Writing Program and the Office of Student Engagement.

Casualty Reports, published in October, 2022, is the eleventh volume of poetry that Collins has authored. She has also co-edited six anthologies and co-translated four volumes of Vietnamese poetry.

Collins’ works typically focus on social issues, such as race and racism, gun violence, and war, woven with familial stories, that cycle through time, location, and eras, and inspire future change. 

For example, in her poem “In Illinois,” Collins writes about her great-grandfather and grandfather who were miners in southern Illinois, who handed down a collection of artifacts to her father, and how her father, although he never worked in the mines, then gave them to her.

Collins brought five copies of Casualty Reports which were raffled off to the students following the reading. 

Collins also signed books which were available to purchase from the book store and then proceeded to a classroom where she met with students and talked about the nuts and bolts of writing poetry. 

Collins founded the Creative Writing Program at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and was a teacher of Tom Laughlin. Laughlin is currently the MCC’s Creative Writing Program Coordinator.

Laughlin notes that “the Visiting Writers Series provides our students opportunities to hear accomplished writers read their work; to ask questions of the writers about their craft, writing processes, writing and publishing journeys, writing advice, and individual creative works; and to speak one-on-one with writers.” 

Professor Tom Laughlin and poet Martha Collins drawing a name of a student who will win a copy of her book Casualty Reports. Casualty Reports. Photo by Doris Smith

The group she was meeting with also publishes the school’s Dead River Review, “an online literary magazine created in honor of Henry David Thoreau and his love of the Concord River.” For more information, check out http://deadriverreview.com.

Visit https://creativewritingmcc.wordpress.com to learn more about the Creative Writing Program as well as other events it sponsors. Laughlin mentioned that older adults can take classes at a reduced rate.

Visit Collins’ website at https://marthacollinspoet.com to learn about other books that she has written, edited/co-edited, and translated/co-translated, along with an impressive list of her awards.

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Doris Smith is an Arts and Cultural Reporter for The Bedford Citizen. She was supported by a grant from the Bedford Cultural Council from December 2022 - June 2023.

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