My American Night

Poems by Christopher P. Collins
Selected by David Bottoms

Brutal yet reflective poems that come to grips with the horrors of war


“A quiet dignity runs through these poems of yet another American war and a matter-of-factness that speaks beautifully for an entire generation of American warriors called to battle by the attack on the World Trade Center. Christopher Collins takes us, with these finely honed poems, to the edge of what we can bear; the details are sometimes too much to bear, but the poet comes to this language of moral collapse honestly, and there is nothing false here, nothing done for the sake of show or drama; every word and every precise turn of phrase is devoted to bringing to our consciousness an image of war and what war does to people, poetry’s oldest subject, and he does so with a striking originality and with a fine ear.”
—Bruce Weigl, author of The Abundance of Nothing

“Seldom have I ever read such a brutally honest depiction of warfare. Chris Collins does not shy away from the painful complexities but lets the mysteries shine through. In a voice both original and completely honest, he reveals the deep paradoxes of the human spirit. This is a powerful collection of poems.”
—David Bottoms, author of We Almost Disappear


This collection of lyric poems wrestles with a sense of self that has become fragmented by the experience of war. Christopher P. Collins has taken his tours in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, extracted their emotional shrapnel, and examined their toll on his civilian life. He considers the two sides of himself that have been wrought in these parallel lives. One is the self of the citizen-soldier, and the other is the self of the husband and father. His poems reveal the brutal ways in which these selves collide and bleed into one another.

“Song for a Lost Team” from My American Night
Returning to my quarters
after the chaplain’s service
for the three soldiers killed,

I laid a picture of my wife
       and our two kids
on the green cot, then

cut a small groove
into my right thigh
with the sharpened
bayonet’s point—

anything, just to feel.

Georgia Poetry Prize

Page count: 96
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


List price: $19.95

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Christopher P. Collins is a former military officer and a twelve-year veteran of the U.S. Army Reserve, having completed three overseas combat deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is the 2015 winner of Farmingdale’s Paumanok Poetry Award and has published one poetry chapbook, Gathering Leaves for War. He lives in Independence, Kentucky.