Ugly Duckling Presse


Aaron McCollough

Poetry | $15 $12
Buy"I am blinded by this book’s dark beauty, its careful precision, its generous offerings."

Aaron McCollough's fifth bookUnderlight, is a dialogue of selves progressing through the Möbius turns of innocence and experience, materiality and faith, despair and reason. Underlight is a lyric inquiry into the problems of being and community. It opens itself gradually outward to embrace complication but also accountability as redemptive virtues in a life always on the brink of nihilism.

Excerpt ˇ


Whatever happens in increments
– the coffee ring
in the corner of this page dimmer than the last –
happens as premonition and anamnesis
like everything
No surprise I think I smell a fugue
coming on those golden numbers
more like church bells
So hard at work not minding
the gap it feels like revelation to fall
in bed and worry about infinity,
adjacency, how much you will miss
loving the person beside you in increments
how much you are missing I mean and
will be once stepped out of 

Close ˆ

About the Author

Aaron McCollough
Photo credit: Lisa Campbell

Aaron McCollough is the author of No Grave Can Hold My Body Down (2011), Little Ease (2006), Double Venus (2003), and Welkin (2002). He is the librarian for English Language and Literature and for Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan's Hatcher Graduate Library. He lives in Ann Arbor.


Advance Praise

Aaron McCollough’s poetry is a living system that is one part the assaulted world and one part the world’s conscious surveyor. In Underlight 'a private sorrow drapes' revealing an ecology of disappointment where the poet reports 'hearing at least feels like holding and where else does it go.' While the music here plumbs various shapes a final hour can take, it also insists we should never agree to an end without first having our most heartfelt say, 'Making love, we used the dark for leverage.' Underlight is full of such impossible machines all doing emergency work.—Peter Richards
Underlight shines its luminescence under bodies large and small. Desiccated spiders, fields of clover, a leaf’s spine, the anatomy of the soul, an entire forest’s understory, all unfold under this stunning light. Drawn in through vision, the urge to see becomes the urge to hold, however tenuous such holdings might be. But what is held in this book is held aside in ecstasy, until even what I knew I held—my own body—stands beside me. Under 'the pressure and underlight, / where soul is burin / and self is soft line away,' I look at looking. I am blinded by this book’s dark beauty, its careful precision, its generous offerings. I cannot look away. —Sasha Steensen