Commencement Poet, Quintin Collins, and his Poem, "The Dandelion Speaks of Survival"

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass., May 25, 2018 – At Pine Manor College's 107th commencement ceremony, which took place May 20, Quintin Collins, soon-to-be graduate of Pine Manor College’s Solstice Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Program, presented graduates with a call to persist. As a gift to the graduating class, he wrote and read "The Dandelion Speaks of Survival," a poem that highlights the perseverance of the flowers as a reflection of the new graduates' enduring spirits. 

"We live in a time when students, particularly students of color, face opposition to advancing their knowledge to create change," Collins said. "This poem celebrates the persistence to expand their education despite systems that would restrict their growth. This poem is for all of us." 

Collins, a student of color, crafted "The Dandelion Speaks of Survival" as a reminder to graduates who have bested adversity and will prevail as they move into the workforce or onto further study.

Pine Manor College is a leader in providing education to traditionally underserved populations, including a student body that is 85% persons of color, 84% first generation, 80% low income, and 50% multilingual. College President Thomas M. O’Reilly believes the messages in Collins' poem mirror Pine Manor College's praise for its community of students who defy expectations and boundaries. 

"2018's graduating class has beaten the odds and earned success in and outside of the classroom," O'Reilly said. "I can think of no better gift to our graduates, and indeed the entire Pine Manor College community, than this poem. It is affirming and inspiring.”

Before reading at the ceremony, Collins told graduates their education is a form of resistance. He hopes they look to the poem as a sign of how far they've come and how much they'll grow in spite of what obstacles the world places in their paths. 

Read the poem below:

The Dandelion Speaks of Survival

When they see me rise, a nebula of coronas, sun-
bursting spires strewn among their bermuda and bluegrass lawns,
they will come for me. When my roots fan a maze
around their chrysanthemums, interlace a cage
around their petunias, grab the life I'm so often denied,
they will come for me. They will come for me
when I yawn from a driveway fissure. They will come for me
when my jagged leaves sprawl over their gravel beds.
They will come with hands clenched, garden shears
snapping jaws, weed wackers to split my body,
chemicals that wither and disintegrate me. They will come
with mower blades sharp, the thunder of gasoline
combusting in the engine. They will come
with tillers and hoes and rakes and knives and torches.
Don't they know that when the wind rocks my halo,
I cast seeds into the wind? Don't they know
I clutch earth tighter than any English bluebell? Don't they know
I have survived their hands and their instruments. Don't they know
I have survived every way they have spilled my bitter milk.
I have survived. I have survived. I have survived.
I will survive again and again. When they sharpen their new tools,
when they arm themselves with professional-grade sprays,
when they call their landscapers to scrape out my existence,
when they call me weed, when they call me nuisance,
when they call me pest, when they say I am not welcome,
when they poison their own soil to stunt my growth,
know that I will survive. Know that I will spring forth
a field of gold, glisten with my petals kissed by morning dew.
Know that I will bloom like the sun spilling
over the horizon. Know that I will stretch my stem and roots
beyond all borders. I will split their concrete and this earth.

About Pine Manor College

Pine Manor College (PMC) is a small, private, four-year liberal arts college dedicated to the mission of "Educating with Purpose." The College’s student population is comprised of 85% students of color, and 84% are first in their families to attend college. The College focuses on pathways to careers through internships, organizational partnerships, and academic programs. As a result, 100% of PMC’s 2016 and 2017 graduates were either employed or pursuing post-degree programs within six months of graduation.

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For more on Pine Manor College contact Efrat Zinnar-Shavit, Director of Media and Publications, at 617-731-7163 or ezinnarshavit@pmc.edu.