What Weaponry

Publication Date: August 2016



In this land time stops, white bird hovering in the pre-dawn. Unseen fawns high step the wet grass. And we, feet and shins bathed in shallow seas of scrub marvel at the complete dark. “There’s nothing$$ you whisper, and then say nothing more. I know you mean the world has closed down its doors. We haven’t slept but tired’s come back to wild elation the way all things circle back to meet their opposites. The way I sometimes become you again. And through bare toes feeling for the towpath, and that stab of electric light moved on by our motion, we find the neighbor’s barn door. No light in neighbor’s kitchen, no horse sounds from the yard. Only the crickets and your breathing, pale face posed, the gun still in your hand.


Handsomely forged like the best scenes of the best art films, Elizabeth Colen’s What Weaponry moves between expansive seashores and claustrophobic interiors to illuminate or exorcise the emotional interstices we all inhabit. Such violence and tenderness rubbing up against each other! It’s impossible to look away. And if, as Colen insists, ‘There is no mystery here,’ it’s because she has exposed the beautiful ugly subcutaneous.

-Debra Di Blasi

In What Weaponry, Elizabeth J. Colen has done something much more challenging, much more nimble than write a book of prose poems. She has created a wonder, a linear circularity – “We haven’t slept but tired’s come back to wild elation the way all things circle back to meet their opposites” – she has embedded a book of poems inside a book of prose. “Say you didn’t say his name. Say you sang it.” So I won’t. I will. I just have to follow her. Let her make music with the stories she puts in my mouth. Let her wake me.

-TC Tolbert

The vortex of bold words that whip through Elizabeth Colen’s What Weaponry are messages fully articulating a new form of body. A new sense of love. Radiant and containing “all electric, all thought” the language found in Colen’s latest book generously provide a jittery syntactical jolt. What is constant in these dazzling lyrical vignettes is the desire for intimacy in the throes of love’s changing face. What Weaponry swerves, plumbs, sears and burns for that which eludes but is right before us. It’s a remarkable book.

-Oliver de la Paz

About the Author

Elizabeth Colen

Elizabeth Colen’s books include prose-poem novel What Weaponry, poetry collections Money for Sunsets (Lambda Literary Award finalist) and Waiting Up for the End of the World, flash fiction collection Dear Mother Monster, Dear Daughter Mistake, book-length lyric essay The Green Condition, and fiction collaboration True Ash. Nonfiction editor at Tupelo Press and freelance editor/manuscript consultant, she teaches at Western Washington University.

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