Kate Colby

Winner of the Norma Farber First Book Award in 2007

Fruit of the Season's Slush Fund

Being that
she's always to be found
in space made by concertina wire
a drab and tattering habit fashioned
by many charming seasons

                                      (the gray sound of spokes
                                      yelled deuce behind the baseline—
                                      courted trapping in a tennis skirt)
For what it's worth, preferring
a third, green rail, fifth wheel,
wrenched at the rhumb line, scabs
pushing barbs, ragged paths by what passes
for a pick-up in the night.

Picked up and driven home:
the Post Road pitted with sown salt, hitching
posts adrift in dirty snow
and stonewalling
in the rearview mirror, a semblance
of permafrost
making all shoes insensible.

Let down, rather
than recoiled
from time
in time for the local pandemic
of porchlight, inoculating
a revival of whist
under the weather.
What's more:
her paper fan-shaped frock
into little dead places.

Rosmarie Waldrop on Kate Colby

In the Transcendentalist Fruitlands community, the husband smashed the mirror his wife had brought because "there are to be no false reflections here." Kate Colby uses this utopian perspective to explore the uncertain, shifting boundaries between fact, phantasy, representation, reflection, history, myth, memory—between edges that are "if only in effigy." With a fine intelligence and a subtle ear she tracks both instabilities and possibilities, the map that is mere broken sherds and the sherds that can become a map. She choreographs this "dance of the intellect among words" with all the disruption needed for pat- terns to become visible. She is at the same time aware of the limitations of the mind seen in a larger context. You may in frustration "throw a puzzle at the wall"—but then "oceans creep in."

is an ambitious and astonishing first book which, though it knows that it cannot resolve the complexities of our world, nevertheless tries to give them form. Its brilliant and precise language does indeed "figure the problem (not figure out)."

Go Back to Annual Awards Winners' Listing