Sleeping together: Antiquarianism, anti-naturalism and Kate Colby’s narco-poetics

João Paulo Guimarães


In Beauport, American poet Kate Colby poses the question of whether the fictions that orient our daily lives are necessarily less real, natural and true than the more visceral, complex and historically subtle world supposedly revealed by experimental poetry. Colby provocatively revisits and re-evaluates the spheres of bourgeois domesticity, tourism and memorabilia, often dismissed in vanguardist circles for suggesting inauthenticity, ignorance and conservatism. Bric-à-brac’s death-like stasis soothes her sense of impotence and brings her closer to the sleep-walking commonfolk she classes herself with. Colby taps into the democratic potential of these objects whose stagnant beauty problematizes progressivist notions of recuperative and regenerative politics.


American poetry; realism; antiquarianism; natural history, wilderness; frontier; organicism; open form; decadence; fatalism; sleep; Charles Olson; language poetry

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