Evocative Tales Revealed at Last
;;;;;; ;;;;; ;;;;;;; after her death,
the literary and film work of Jersey City
native Kathleen Collins is as exciting,
evocative and relevant as when first
created during the ;;;;s and ’;;s.
Collins, one of the first African-
American women to produce a feature
film, died of breast cancer in ;;;; at
the age of ;;. For decades, her unpub-
lished work languished in a steamer
trunk. Recently, her daughter, Nina
Lorez Collins, arranged for restora-
tion of Collins’s film, Losing Ground, a
dramatic comedy depicting artsy black
professionals. The film received little
attention in the U.S. when released in
the early ;;;;s, though it found success
overseas. In ;;;;, the restored version
was included in a festival of black inde-
pendent movies and played at Lincoln
Center to sold-out crowds for three
weeks. That paved the way for Lorenz
Collins to compile Whatever Happened
to Interracial Love? (Ecco, ;;;;), a
collection of ;; of her mother’s never-
released short stories.
Collins was first an
activist (a Freedom Rider
and speechwriter), later
an assistant Broadway
musical director and a
professor of film history
and screenwriting at City
University of New York.
All the while, she wrote.
Her stories, reaching
beyond the pigeonhole
view of black American
life at the time, tackle
issues of race, class, cre-
ativity, relationships and family. What-
ever Happened to Interracial Love?, the
title work of the collection, portrays
black and white civil-rights workers as
activism grew, flourished and died.
Written when African-Americans
were “colored” (and by Collins’s pen,
colored vividly), the
stories feature char-
acters who are com-
plex, animated and
fully formed within
just a few lines.
Collins often eschews the traditional
story arc. Instead, her
tales are buttressed by
an intimate, unguarded
and culturally authentic narrative voice.
The stories leave a
Because there is no fu-
ture work to anticipate, the kudos they
elicit are bittersweet.
—Deborah P. Carter
an intimate, unguarded
and culturally authen-
tic narrative voice.
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