cover image I Mean

I Mean

Kate Colby. Ugly Duckling Presse (SPD, dist.), $16 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-937027-45-2

In her sixth book, Colby pairs a single long, eponymous poem with four essays on poetics, aesthetics, fraternity, and place. The book's parts function in tandem as tools via which the author, in various degrees of obsession, contextualizes and re-contextualizes her life, her experiences, and her work: "I mean the walls/ are braced/ against themselves// I mean brace yourself// I mean to take the house down/ with its own components." Using its title anaphoristically and clocking in at nearly 70 pages, the title poem is a tight, nimble, and wide-ranging work that manages to, in the author's words, "pile words up/ and wrap the referents around them" in a remarkably fun and conceptually virtuosic way. The essays also display an erudition that can be both heady and playful. Of a favorite personal anecdote, Colby writes, "That element of ontological mystery about something that feels so close to me is the crease that collapses me into myself." And of the linguistics of place: "What I've... realized is that %E2%80%98there' was a place of my own making and different from %E2%80%98here.' Here is where I am, no matter where and where else I'm pointing at." With verve and purpose, Colby plays trick after alluring trick to write herself in and out of meaning. (June)