I|I was selected by Kazim Ali to win the 2022 Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Book Prize and is available now. Get your copy from your local independent bookstore, Small Press Distribution, Amazon, or directly from Seneca Review Books.
Katherine Indermaur’s full-length debut, I|I, is a serial lyric essay that explores the mirror’s many dimensions—philosophical, spiritual, scientific, mythological, historical—alongside the author’s own experiences. Anyone who has struggled with the disconnect between their outward appearance and their inner self knows how fraught and fragmentary it can be to behold one’s own reflection. Indermaur’s essay, however, does more than merely problematize the contested space where the face and the mirror meet. There is also affirmation to be found here. This is a book that thinks so keenly it breaks into song.
Praise for I|I
“In fragments one might be known. Seen from dozens of angles, the mind may move among facets and see the whole. It is, in fact, how seeing works in the human brain anyhow. Katherine Indermaur’s I|I finds rich resonances among these disparate but not discrete shards. Rather a full shape in time and space assembles. Both the ‘lyric’ and the ‘essay’ are fully achieved, home is sought, the self seeks to connect with all of what is beyond.” —Kazim Ali, Judge, 2022 Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Book Prize
“’Every seeing distorts the world,’ writes Katherine Indermaur in I|I. Culling historical and cultural fragments of what mirrors are, as well as what they mean, Indermaur invites us to peer into longing and wonder. She pulls us in close to the reflection, asking us to look deeper into words and meaning, revealing a fragmented yet encompassing portrait of what it means to confront the self beyond the perceived ‘I.’ With an eye to both poetry and philosophy, I|I reveals the dangers of seeing, how light and reflection, once unveiled, give way to a broken and distorted existence and perception of so many unending selves. It is a delight to gaze into these mirrory fragments, seemingly stretching into infinity.” —Jenny Boully, author most recently of Betwixt-and-Between: Essays on the Writing Life
“With her meditative capture of the ways of looking, Katherine Indermaur assembles an exquisite composite of personal memory, facial (and existential) examination, etymology, and cross-cultural ways of seeing oneself in I|I. This brilliant lyric flows like a resplendent river replete with tributaries and oxbow lakes, where each bend of water orients the eye to new lines of sight. This essay is visionary, it envisions, revising its modes of seeing to query the quotidian practice of seeing oneself in a reflective surface. Reminiscent of Suzanne Buffam’s A Pillow Book or Eliot Weinberger’s elliptical essays, Indermaur’s essaying is a facing of her subject that is ultimately uniquely her own. Here are ‘fragments’ which ‘feed out on light. On looking.’ And how transcendent the journey.” —Diana Khoi Nguyen, author of Ghost Of
“’If I could only see more clearly my own seeing.’ So begins Katherine Indermaur’s stunning I|I, a book that looks long, and longingly, at vision itself. In our ocularcentric world, both mirror and eye, not unlike language, are taken at face value. The eye/I of these poem-essays glides over the surface while, at the same time, ‘unsurfac[ing] things,’ ushering the reader into a depth that challenges the reign of vision. In the spirit of Levinas and Buber, Indermaur offers us a handbook of compassionate seeing, a ‘practice’ we so desperately need after these screen-filled, isolated years. ‘A practice: Tell your subject to look in your eyes. Look equally in your subject’s eyes. Look therein for your own reflected face.’ It is through such practices that we begin to see that language is both a series of relations (words are ‘cousins of wonder,’ ‘sisters’) and the very thing of which relationships are made. While Indermaur knows the complexity of these relations, she cannot help but hope, as we all should, that through them we might find one another again: ‘If only it were this clear: Sight so precise (you and I) call it a line.’” —Sasha Steensen, author most recently of Everything Awake
- Poets & Writers: Literary MagNet: Katherine Indermaur
- Sweet Lit: Interview with Katherine Indermaur: Mirrors, New Rituals, and Writing Against Shame
- Poet to Poet with Radha Marcum: From Fragments to Whole: Building a Book
- In New Delta Review by Halley McArn
- In Sweet Lit by Chelsea Dingman
Published Excerpts from the Book
Here are some previously published excerpts you can read online if you want a sneak peek at what’s in the book:
- New Delta Review (2019)
- Oxidant|Engine (2019)
- Pulpmouth (2020)
- GASHER Journal (2021)
- Ex/Post Magazine (2022)
Additional excerpts were also published in Ghost Proposal, Coast|noCoast issue 2, Seneca Review vol. 51 no. 2, and as a 2021 chapbook titled Facing the Mirror: An Essay (Coast|noCoast Press).
A Note on Pronunciation
I|I is pronounced by repeating the personal pronoun “I” once after a brief pause.