Sunday 11 April 2010

Katie Ford's Colosseum (Graywolf, 2008)

I've been awed by the work of a poet new to me, Katie Ford, whose second collection, Colosseum, I came across in New York. Here are some choice passages.

If it is as Socrates says,
that locusts were human
until they heard the song of the world
and, so captured, forgot
to eat and drink and died--

and if it's true the gods
took pity on the dead
enough to resurrect them
into ashen singing things--

then, so too, our songs

will have to be plagues.

last stanzas of "Beirut"

I threw tarps over a life
and never could they reach--

still hastily I gathered
tarps more rare by the hour

in the city of nothing to spare.

from "Rarely"


eats what there is. It is
biblical: sit at the table of another
country, you must eat
what is set before you

They didn't know they were in another country
until they were left living.

from "Fish Market"

We were hardly vessels
what we took in could not be

and so we spat it out as dogs spit out
the wretched fish the only meat

the opening stanzas of "Vessel"

for when there is no storm
there is this stormed body

to keep alive in its solitary room
outside of which the snow is falling

one of us at a time.

the last lines of "Snow"

Look at the belief I can't live by, how it didn't follow
but was here before me like the fields of tall, planted cane

where anything can be hidden. I think this is
what we get when we ask to be saved:
a land where everything grows, and there are many killings.

the last lines of "What We Get"

All the films we saw there, their reels melting, the rows
where lovers went because they knew
or didn't know, it doesn't matter,
that watching the same story
could make them closer.

from "Coliseum Theater"

I listened to hymns and asked so much of them they quieted
like a body that withers when it feels itself
clung to.


Evidence being that which screams its moment--
one need not even look.

from "Raised Voice"

and when those who populate your life return
to their curtained rooms and lie down without you,
you are alone, you
are quarry.

from "Colosseum"

As for the tarpan it shall be for you.
A reckoning so slow you aren't even frightened.

the last stanza of "Earth"

The Book Depository has Colosseum for a discounted price with free worldwide shipping.


  1. Thanks Carrie, love the compression and expanse in these lines, I will look out her books.

  2. Anonymous10:59 am

    Such acute, concise precision which also magnifies the complexity of thought grips me, too.

    Helen P x