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An Individual History: Poems by Michael Collier

By Michael Collier

An person History describes the fears, anger, and guilt—personal, familial, societal, political, and historical—that contain a existence. The determine of the speaker’s maternal grandmother who was once institutionalized for 5 a long time serves as an overriding metaphor for this haunting, daring new paintings by way of a vital American poet.

from “An person History

This was once prior to the time of lithium and Zoloft

before temper stabilizers and anxiolytics

and just about all the psychotropic medications, yet now not before


which the suicide O’Laughlin referred to as “handcuffs for the


It used to be sooner than, in the course of, and after the time of atomic


Auschwitz, the Nakba, DDT, and also you may well take water


find solace in quarantines, perform shunnings,

or stand at Lourdes one of the canes and crutches.

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Extra resources for An Individual History: Poems

Example text

Does he realize, I wonder, that I do have reservations about his work? Ifhe does it's because I've been honest and he ought to be grateful for that. He ought to see how my honesty is profoundly involved in the originality and freshness of my work. He's very smart but somehow he never quite seems to catch on, to wake up to how special my talent is. But it's okay, I can wait; maybe he's just distracted-he's been so busy lately. Really he's a fine person with a fine mind. Basically he's a great guy.

And he's the one who finally gets the girl, or woman, whateverunless there'd be two women, yes, a sultry brunette and this younger very slim one-lots of possibilities- 47 . so, three or four characters on the good side versus the foul poachers, swarthy types soaked with sweat, and the greedy ivory dealer who owns five airplanes and bribes the police (of Kenya, Uganda, Congo) and ultimately arranges the murder of one protagonist in the teeming marketplace of Bujumbura because he or she knows too much, but meanwhile the dealer is actually subtly unhappy and one long night he reveals this to the woman from the Park Service in a dialogue that deepens my novel considerably.

Then an alleged interval ostensibly intervenes, at the mall a woman at a piano has played 1800 songs from memory according to the radio personality who stands with a mike explaining her bid for the Guinness Book of Records. I am walking away at an unplanned angle singing "Tiny Montgomery" which I bet she wouldn't have been ready to play. I have this inner life, I think of my father lonely in Vermont, I think of myselflonely in Syracuse and myoid poem about a detective who can't solve his biggest case and as a result I have feelings-but my teacher said the future of American poetry can't be merely the notation of sensibility.

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