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Transom:
In this fairly serious, politically-engaged poem, there’s some jokeyness: The line break after the first line, and the shift from “The good book” to “a good book.” Do you think it’s possible to speak to politics without humor anymore?

Collins:
Not without crying, perhaps?  Too much political discourse in this country often seems to me in shambles at the moment, when we so desperately need it to be fierce & critically acute.  I guess I’m trying to find humor in common delusions—vanity & self-importance are examples here—to take them apart without being too violent.  Violence is one thing that seems to trouble much of our political discourse, directly or indirectly—I hope that poems like this diffuse some of that inherent violence & try to find humor & strength in the endurance of different kinds of violence, rather than to further exacerbate their consequences.

Transom:

A number of your poems are epistolary, or in the 2nd person. What opportunities arise from writing in this mode?

Collins:
It gives me a conversation, and direction.  When I use direct address I never feel like I’m just writing into a void.  Whether I’m being interrogative or directive with the “you” in the poem, I feel like there’s two-way communication there, even if the responses of the “you” are implied—that questions can be answered sincerely or with bullshit, and directions can be taken or left.  I suppose that’s not too different from how audiences react—they either buy into what you’re saying, or they don’t.  If they buy in, then they respond to the questions & conflicts the poems hold in front of them, they allow you direct their attention.  If they don’t buy in, they turn the page or click away.  I like trying to engage with audiences (& poems) in that way.