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It is Daylight , By Arda Collins '96
Overviews: Thomas Newkirk (UNH professor of English), Thalia Chaltas '88 and Paul Griner '81
In Their Own Words: Jeremy Lougee '09G, Beth Boynton '81, Danuta Lipinska '81, Walter Hall, Jr. '57 and Douglas Campbell III '75
Also of Note: James Zoller '71, Monica Chiu (UNH associate professor of English), Gretchen A. Adams '01G
News from Theatre and Dance alumni: Michael Vaccaro '92, Sarah Duclos Cost '05, Bunty Thakkar '05

It is Daylight
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Arda Collins '96

"One of my favorite things about poetry is the private view of the world that it expresses," Arda Collins '96 says. "It seems irreducible, and there's something very comforting about it. It's an intensified version of the sense of recognition that we look for when we read."

The narrator of It is Daylight (Yale University Press, 2009) is strange, innocent and very funny, and moves through the world poised between thought and action, past and future. She evokes a Hopper-esque atmosphere, narrating the present by furnishing space with imagination, amidst the solid appointments: "Day comes/to your estranged bed,/the mood of the bathtub inexplicably/altered; the smell of the darkened kitchen, the morning/hallway, the evening chairs./Alone/on the couch in the daytime you say something/aloud, and it's not your own voice that carries/through the living room, but a voice/that comes from in front of you and everything moves toward it."

It is Daylight, Collins' first collection, won the 2008 Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition; past winners include Adrienne Rich and John Ashbery. Judge Louise Gluck, a former U.S. poet laureate, chose the collection from more than 600 manuscripts, and wrote the forward to it. Collins has written, she says, "a book of astonishing originality and intensity, unprecedented, unrepeatable."

book cover

Collins grew up on Long Island writing stories. She knew she wanted to be a writer, but instead of choosing a genre, she thought, "Wouldn't it be great to write with no plot and no characters, but just say things?" She thinks of her work as a hybrid, blurring lines between fiction and poetry, and complicating traditional notions of character, plot and narrative. "A lot of writers are currently talking about the messy process of defining one's work," she says, "and the fact that we often don't make formal genre decisions about it. For me, my work became poetry because I invented a different way of talking to myself."

Her first poetry workshop was at UNH with Charles Simic, who, she says, "has a subtle and engaging way about him, and is very funny. He was also critical and never minced words." After UNH, she made documentaries for public TV, becoming an associate producer and researcher for "Frontline" and "American Experience." She longed to write and teach, however, and earned an M.F.A. at the Iowa Writer's Workshop in 2004, and is currently in a doctoral program in poetry at the University of Denver.

Collins cites John Cheever, Gertrude Stein and Brazilian poets Carlos Drummond de Andrade and Fernando Pessoa as influences. Now that she has published a book, she is astonished at what readers find in it. "Creating it was like making a mixed tape--it's heavily ordered in that I was tracing out an arc of experience," she says. "But then someone said, 'Your collection begins in the morning, and ends at night.' I never thought of that!" ~

Anne Downey '95G, a freelance writer who lives in Eliot, Maine, received her Ph.D. in English from UNH.