Part memoir, part meditation on poetry, part conversation with her husband, friends, and the many animals that live with and around her, Katharine Coles’s The Stranger I Become probes the permeable boundary between inner life and outer, thought and action, science and experience. Coles begins this collection of lyric essays with a meditation on walking, and “the urge to move beyond, to understand myself as a stranger, estranged.”
The essays travel, always on foot, from Coles’ home, with its indoor and outdoor 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, often in company, they move into her own neighborhood and through other cities, domestic and foreign, which, alongside the poems that inhabit her, make up the fabric of her experience.
Katharine Coles is the author of two novels, seven collections of poems, and the memoir Look Both Ways. The recipient of grants from the NEA, the NEH, and the Guggenheim Foundation, she has served as Poet Laureate of Utah and was inaugural director of the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute. She is a distinguished professor of English at the University of Utah.