The visceral new work by Katie Ford, whose poems “possess the veiled brilliance of stained glass windows seen at night” (The New York Times Book Review)

If you respect the dead
and recall where they died
by this time tomorrow
there will...

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The visceral new work by Katie Ford, whose poems “possess the veiled brilliance of stained glass windows seen at night” (The New York Times Book Review)

If you respect the dead
and recall where they died
by this time tomorrow
there will be nowhere to walk.

With gravity and resplendence, Colosseum confronts ruin in the ancient world and in the living moment, from historical accounts and from firsthand experience. Displaced from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Katie Ford returns this powerful report attesting to the storm’s ferocity and its aftershock. Ford examines other catastrophes—those biblical, obscured by time, and those that play out daily, irrefutably, in the media. Colosseum is an essential, moving book in its insistence that our fates are intertwined and that devastation does not discriminate.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Colosseum is a book of polychromatic comprehensions and fiercely kinetic observation. In its vatic stock-taking of event and aftermath, the usual boundaries seem to fall away: interior and exterior, public and private, the intimacies of the close at hand and the overview clarities of distance interweave with precise and startling balance . . . Katie Ford’s poetry scours, distills, unsettles, and awakens.” —Jane Hirshfield

Publishers Weekly

Named for the great amphitheatre in Rome, Ford's second collection of poetry reckons with the themes that iconic structure brings to mind: achievements of architecture and engineering, spectacles of violence, lost empires and forgotten gods. Opening with the author's birth amidst the fall of Saigon and civil war in Beirut, the book travels backward and forward through historical destructions, biblical floods and Ford's own firsthand account of the devastation of New Orleans by Katrina. Faced with the unstoppable storm and the rising waters, she writes: "We will be overcome by waters/ where I stand with my lanterns and cans,/ my useless preparations and provisions,/ with the God I loved, I hated, and you." Considering the sum of all these ruins-the human achievement of which they are the shadow-the author continually reckons with meaning and interrogates her own faith; she pleads: "Something please tell me I'm wrong/ about impermanence,/ wrong there is no unbroken believable thing/ on this earth." Moving through the Colosseum in Rome, to the Duomo in Florence, to the Louisiana Superdome, Ford shows impressive restraint in reconciling the vast accomplishments and devastations of history, creating an enduring collection of quiet and powerful elegies. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

The title of Ford's second poetry collection (after Deposition) refers not only to the Roman ruin but also the Colosseum Theater, a neighborhood movie house in the Garden District of New Orleans that burned down six months after the floods of Katrina. Ford reveals the origins of this story in a note at the back of the book, one of many helpful glosses of the sources she draws upon, from Genesis and Exodus to Tolstoy and William James. These poems take us as close as an outsider can get, layer by layer, through the artifacts and archetypes of our ruined cities and their inhabitants (she also visits Rome, Beirut, and Saigon). The speaker herself tells us, in a poem called "What We Get," "I wanted the far away. I wanted not to feel/caught," catching us by the unexpected line break. In "The Snakes," the serpents do not signify the fall from grace, though they can be read that way, and acts of nature need not be read as acts of God. Ford's work is strongly reminiscent of Carolyn Forché's The Angel of History and deserves the same level of recognition. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.
—Sue Russell

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555975012
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press
  • Publication date: 5/27/2008
  • Pages: 64
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Katie Ford is the author of Deposition. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, and Poets & Writers. She has taught at Loyola University, Reed College, and now at Franklin and Marshall College. She lives in Philadelphia.

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Table of Contents

Beirut 3

I Storm

Flee 9

Tell Us 11

Rarely 12

Earth 13

Ark 14

Fish Market 15

Vessel 16

He Said 17

Tolstoy's Storm 18

Snow 19

II Vessel

The Shape of Us 23

Crossing America 24

Division 25

Earth 26

Injury 27

The Vessel Bends the Water 28

Tess 29

The Singing 30

Flag 31

What We Get 32

Spring Wish 33

Coliseum Theater 34

Cemetery 35

Raised Voice 36

Koi 37

III Colosseum

Overture 43

Colosseum 44

Snakes 48

Rose 49

Duomo 50

Easter Evening 52

Earth 53

Divining Stick 54

Seawater, and Ours a Bed Above It 55

Earth, This Firelit Lantern 57

Notes 59

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