I Mean

I Mean

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Author: Kate Colby

Publisher: Ugly Duckling Presse (2015)

Kate Colby's sixth book is a personal ars poetica that looks back on her previous work and asks what she meant to say, what she keeps meaning to, and how to mean more. In a long, cumulative poem and a collection of lyric essays she explores how meaning is made and denied in and by art and language, effecting an urgent movement toward meaning with hope for no hope for arrival.

"In this stunning collection of poetry and lyric essay, Kate Colby ruminates iteratively, almost recursively over questions of scale and knowability: 'The scale of language is human, and humans do not exist on a comprehensive scale.' The title poem uses a series of 'I mean' statements ('I mean it’s major // I mean in motion // I mean pictures') in a performance of clarification, but the accumulation of contradictory meanings ('self-supplanting palimpsests') disrupts the text’s ability to mean anything stable; standalone attempts at meaning become, en masse, a conceptual inquiry into semantics. Colby grasps again and again at the ineffable or rather the almost-effable—she does not want to capture X so much as to convey X through the grasping itself, to circumscribe what can’t be expressed. At times, she achieves this so spectacularly—in 'moments of euphoric clarity'—it makes me want to cry."

–Elisa Gabbert