Michael Collier's The Ledge was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He teaches at the University of Maryland and directs the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. (Author photo by Katherine Branch)
Whether he is describing "the great flowery dress" of his seventh-grade teacher, an ex-Nazi companion on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, or Lebanese beekeepers, Michael Collier, in his bold sixth book of poems, An Individual History, explores with characteristically elegant linguistic verve, emotional intelligence, and sly wit the ineffable and sometimes startling relationships between personal experience and public history. An Individual History describes what Collier calls "an epoch of lean notation"—"before, during, and after the time of atomic fallout, / Auschwitz, the Nakba, DDT," in which the figure of his maternal grandmother, institutionalized for five decades, serves as one of the overriding metaphors for this haunting new work by one of America's most essential and gifted poets.
“Collier’s sixth collection engages with childhood, fatherhood, and family life, in the living present and memorial past, a history explored with brilliantly precise detail and originality of perspective.”
“Though the wide-ranging content of these highly personal poems may seem catch-as-catch-can, it’s clear that for the poet they are hard-won fragments in the effort to assemble a coherent sense of selfhood, a quest many readers will recognize.”
W. W. Norton