Kate Colby is the author of Fruitlands (Litmus Press, 2006), Unbecoming Behavior (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2008), Beauport (Litmus Press, 2010), The Return of the Native (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2011), and I Mean (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2015). Her first title, Fruitlands, was selected by Rosmarie Waldrop for a Norma Farber First Book Award in 2007. Chapbooks include Rock of Ages (Anadama Press) and A Banner Year (Belladonna), and recent journal publications include New American Writing, Vanitas, No: A Journal of the Arts, EOAGH, and Little Red Leaves. A recent interview about her work can be found at Bookslut. She grew up in Massachusetts, interloped in California, and now lives in Providence, RI, where she works as a teacher and copywriter.
Taking its title from the transcendentalist utopian community founded by Bronson Alcott, Fruitlands offers its own visionary perspective on contemporary life. In this collection, cultural work is social innovation, and Kate Colby produces and decomposes identity, history, and narrative through fully engaged aesthetic practice. While Fruitlands views the architectural or urban plan from the vantage of an Archimedean point, it inverts the telescope to record transformative and occasionally anarchic encounters on the human scale. Colby maps out exciting possibilities for poetry and other spaces of representation in this stunning debut.
Under pressure, under duress, being a creature of habit caught in the sudden glare of utopic wishfulness, one wakes up in Fruitlands, smuggled inside Colby’s intriguing and recombinant language of surveillance, pulled into suggested routes of survival and eco-linguistic liberties in a century you suddenly desire.
Kate Colby has a gift for blending observation with lyric energy and wit. Capturing the world through a constantly shifting frame, these poems urge us to consider the difference between the ‘false spring’ and the real one. Colby’s field of reference ranges from Hofstadter to Schwarzenegger, and her ambitious title poem will leave you reeling.
Turning to weightless implements of gear-click hedging in
blue, our ticking gaze in light like waves, overturning
A lifeline, a forerunning wake of life rafts and instruments, liminal seconds in cesium skimmed threshold or eleventh hour
draped across the doorjamb.
We lack fear of flatness or our impalement on axes, blinking a reticle of stasis; turn it over and begin again, this dripping like TV test patterns.
Let’s stay, I say, and buoy ourselves in river locks intercalated in channels or our fender-bent synapses, recycling
Never believing in water torture or autisms as misfortune, we were counting gold in a pointillistic landscape of radiating boulevards. In Budapest, a necropolis of shifting foci grid-dots, Soviet heroes, missing limbs.
The thought does not sadden us, but the calculation of sundials; whether flat or equatorial
they always deliver
this sublimating ice
(we are tapping on the ceiling)