Wednesday, November 21, 2007



Kate's first book, Fruitlands (2006), was selected for the Norma Farber First Book award by Rosmarie Waldrop.


In 1977, Walter De Maria erected The Lightning Field in southwestern New Mexico. It is an earthwork; a sculpture of 400 lightning rods spread across an expanse of high desert measuring 1 mile by 1 kilometer. I don’t assume Kate Colby is referencing De Maria’s sculpture, but whether she is or not, it’s good to keep a field of lighting rods around when discussing her debut book, Fruitlands
. --from a review on Cutbank


Kate Greenstreet asks Kate Colby;

How has your life been different since (your first book was published)?

I've become slightly more accustomed to giving readings. In spite of more than 15 years of dance training and having spent much of my youth and adolescence on stages, I developed paralyzing performance anxiety in adulthood. I have to take beta blockers and perform all kinds of superstitious rituals before doing any kind of public speaking, and am usually a wreck afterwards. Drives me nuts. It is slowly getting better, though I don't imagine I'll ever be comfortable reading. But the discomfort is in many ways an advantage, when it comes to being fully present during the reading. The other way in which my life has changed is that I now take this writing activity more seriously. I'm extremely disciplined about it. And it has become holistically intertwined with/filtered through my life, which is the reason to do it, I now know. I believe I've become a much happier, less anxious person because of it. For me, it's similar to dance or tai chi in the way that it allows for a complete self-absorption--again, a presence--and a simultaneous yielding of the ego. How California is that?


Do you believe that poetry can create change in the world?

No, not really. Not this kind of poetry, anyway. Which isn't to say that it's not important. I think that engaging with art changes individuals who are willing to be changed by it. It changes me continually. But in spite of its socially critical nature, I think of this work that I do as a primarily meditative, self-indulgent activity. On the other hand, I do believe in ripple effects, complex systems, etc., so, yes, there's indirect change--or resistance, anyway, which might be even more important. Most important of all, doing this work touches off a self-perpetuating awareness of both the danger and the dullness of these social tools we're all working with. So, I'm going to go with "maybe." But do I believe that one is obligated to do more than only this.

See the rest of the interview here:

KG's blog features a series of interviews about poets' first books.

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