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." — Denise Dooley

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 author of six books, including Unbecoming Behavior (UDP, 2008), The Return of the Native (UDP, 2011) and Fruitlands (Litmus Press), which won the Norma Farber First Book Award in 2007. She is a founding board member of the Gloucester Writers Center in Massachusetts and currently lives in Providence, where she was a 2012 fellow of the Rhode Island State Council for the Arts.

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