Coles is a true original. ―Tom Sleigh
The Stranger I Become probes the permeable boundary between inner life and outer, thought and action, science and experience. Poet Katharine Coles begins her lyric essays with a meditation on "the urge to move beyond, to understand myself as a stranger, estranged." The essays travel, always on foot, from Coles's home with its kept and wild birds, into the canyon her home overlooks, itself populated with creatures ranging from voles to owls, moose, bobcats, and coyotes. From there, always looking, always walking, in the company of the words that move her, they traverse her neighborhood and distant places in this country and the world. All along, they consider the poetry that inhabits her: the winged creatures of Dickinson, Ashbery's "reflections," Keats's "irritable reaching," Anne Carson's ever-unreachable apples, and more. Taken together, they make up what Lance Olsen calls "a poetics of the vivid."