Admit One: An American Scrapbook by Martha Collins, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016, 104 pp/, $15.95
Last spring’s release of Martha Collins’s Admit One: An American Scrapbook, is the third in a series that includes the volumes Blue Front and White Papers. The trilogy as a whole wrestles with race and racism in America from the perspective of a white woman and the history of family and country that precedes and includes her. In her work overall, Collins goes past the paralyzing silence of white guilt and into the active language of implication.
One feels in her work the compulsion to discover, and to confront. Whether her subject is the lynching her father witnessed as a child that is at the crux of Blue Front or the scientific racism of the early twentieth century at the forefront in Admit One, this is material that can’t be ignored once uncovered. Poetry is the vehicle of response for Collins, and we are the richer for having the results of her grappling. She locates our country’s legacy of racism in her own familial connections, therefore speaking from a position more like witness than judge, thought her work does render judgment.