Ugly Duckling Presse

Unbecoming Behavior
Unbecoming Behavior

Kate Colby

Poetry | $14 $10
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"As engaging and resonant as the subject matter is rich."

Part autobiography, part revisionist biography of Jane Bowles, Unbecoming Behavior is Kate Colby’s attempt to “wind [herself] like a stripe to a pole” in order to catch an honest glimpse of herself "in the corner of [her own] eye.” The long poem is about personal historicity, persona, performance, femininity, travel, exile, home, storytelling, and the act of writing itself.

Excerpt ˇ


Consider yourself 
at home in this poem, pounding
through the night, in her head
they keep up the construction—
a preemptive network of unmade beds

Close ˆ

About the Author

Kate Colby

Kate Colby is the author of six books of poetry, including three books with Ugly Duckling Presse: I Mean (2015), The Return of the Native (2011), and Unbecoming Behavior (2008). The Arrangements is forthcoming from Four Way Books in 2018. Her first book, Fruitlands (Litmus), won the Norma Farber First Book Award and she has received fellowships from RI State Council for the Arts and Harvard’s Woodberry Poetry Room. A founding board member of the Gloucester Writers Center in Massachusetts, she currently lives in Providence.

Advance Praise

To use her own words, Kate Colby’s poetry 'cannibalizes' and 'interbreeds' with itself, with the author’s life, and with the work and life of Jane Bowles, the great 20th century fiction writer and playwright. This booklength poem creates its own trajectory—a set of rapid explosions which transform into caresses. Colby’s harmonics—graceful, melodic, fluid and dissonant by turn—work in counterpoint to the relentless flow of fragments and blurs. Unbecoming Behavior is hyper-active to the extreme, and a step onwards. —LEWIS WARSH
Nomadism, childhood, travel, home, and Jane Bowles’ life and work walk on, around and star in this gorgeous staging ground of language complete with 'fricative fronds.' Want hot pursuit of meaning? Jane is constant in flight and anchor through Colby's bold, acrobatic word play, where one line surprises another. Syntactic gymnastics name the Jane. Jim Thompson makes a cameo stroke. Thank the gods! If you have a diamond ring, go pawn it for all of Ugly Duckling Presse’s editions and especially Kate Colby's Unbecoming Behavior that dares to say on the page what no one would speak. —GLORIA FRYM
Kate Colby has a gift for blending observation with lyric energy and wit.—ELIZABETH WILLIS