Arts & Culture

Review: Augsburg’s Donte Collins dissects himself in “Autopsy”


Donte Collins, an Augsburg student, wrote “Autopsy” a 2017 poetry collection. “Autopsy” is the first published collection written by Collins whose accolades include being the recipient of the 2016 Most Promising Young Poet Award and the 2016 Mitchell Prize in Poetry. This collection was not only dedicated to his mother, but it was also written after her death. It’s clear the poems have a very common theme of his grieving process.

The first poem, “Death Ain’t Nothin’ But A Song,” is a beautiful poem about his mother, and it really begins the book strongly. The language in it is simply amazing and really brings his feelings towards his mother in full context in a few short lines. This introduces the audience into the journey Collins is about to take us on.

The strongest takeaway from this short collection is just how well Collins deals with issues that are just related to his life. Poems like “The Orphan Performs an Autopsy on the National Anthem” and “New Country” are both brilliant pieces that provide fascinating insights into race relations in this country. Then there are pieces like “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Thirteen” which talks about his younger years and his thoughts at that age about his homosexuality.

“Autopsy” is a fitting title because Collins really is performing an autopsy on his own life through poetry. The meaning of it all comes through brilliantly because of just how well these poems are written.

One of my favorite pieces in this collection is “Five Stages of Grief” because of how effectively it presents his struggle with grief. The piece doesn’t ever sugar coat what he is going through, but it doesn’t ever feel like it is a complete answer to grief either. It just simply tells us what the grief feels like.

This collection is just brilliant. Collins brings us into his loss in a very effective way. He simply shows us his grief and allows the audience to just read and grieve with him. Collins is a brilliant poet, and I hope there is more to come from him because this book will be a valued part of my bookshelf. Get a hold of this book in any way you can. It is simply a great piece of literature and is filled with plenty of great poems.

This article first appeared in the Friday, November 10, 2017, Edition of The Echo.