In World Enough, Maureen N. McLane maps a universe of feeling and thought via skyscapes, city strolls, lunar vistas, and passages through environments given and built. These poems explore how we come to know ourselves—sensually, intellectually, politically, biologically, historically, and anthropologically. Moving from the most delicate address to the broadest salutation,In World Enough, Maureen N. McLane maps a universe of feeling and thought via skyscapes, city strolls, lunar vistas, and passages through environments given and built. These poems explore how we come to know ourselves—sensually, intellectually, politically, biologically, historically, and anthropologically. Moving from the most delicate address to the broadest salutation, World Enough takes us from New England to New York to France to the moon. McLane fuses song and critique, giving us poetry as "musical thought," in Carlyle's phrase. Shuttling between idyll and disaster, between old forms and open experiment, these are restless, probing, exacting poems that aim to take the measure of—and to give a measure for—where we are. McLane moves through many forms and creates her own, invoking the French Revolution alongside convolutions of the heart and revolutions of the moon. Shifting effortlessly between the species and the self, between the sentient surround and the peculiar pulse within, World Enough attests to experience both singular and shared: "not that I was alive / but that we were."...
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World Enough Reviews
Maureen McLane: one of our best contemporary poets.
There was a couple lines I really liked but aside from that I was not a big fan of the poems. I thought they were kind of all over the place.
A balance between breeziness and brazenness keeps these poems edgy as Maureen McLane transforms landscape into “inscape.” Searching for resolution in isolation, she inhabits “a loafing groove.” She turns stints at literary retreats like Yaddo and McDowell into stylish transcriptions of rain symphonies. Idleness, pleasure and leisure are deemed pre-requisites for finding enough space to faithfully measure the world (which she does).Repetitive and reductive, she parses the weather and seasons to instill beauty and insight. Natural symmetries combine with dancing cadences: “Rose red rose the moon / rose low in the east.” Rhymes become trail marks. Words lead to words: “the language bore me along.” “Heedless” leads to “heedful”; “best” to “beset.” A pervasive sense of wonder struggles with uneasy ease. Admiration is tempered with indictment. “Douce Dame,” a poem about slavery, ends wearily with “we’ve been here too long.”“Spring Daybook” paints an affectionate portrait of Paris. The poet is engaged as she ranges from critiquing takeout food in a “perfect comparative mode” to sublimely describing tulips. “The wrought scrolls” of window boxes become metaphors for her writing. In punchy, unpunctuated bursts, the poem builds to a climax of self-recognition where “the gods guiding and guarding the bridge… let us move to the light.”Trusting her senses, McLane creates a “transcendental palette.” Focused and fluid, she generously generates “new forms / for the free.”
Maureen N. McLane wants ideas to have glamour. That's why she puts them into poems. A poet-scholar who writes poems that marquee her thought (learned), McLane is a scrappy and inveterate synthesizer, and the poems in her second volume, World Enough, go alongside her work on early ballad ethnography, displaying her ideas about romance and Romance with a cool Rivettean sensuousness. "The frizzle-sizzle | menage: pansies and primulas | gone manic in the aisles | the gardeners monitor | by the Grand Hall | of Evolution ---| the names | the years to the custodians | of our archives." Not too vulgar to give us a bit of Foucault with our Agassiz, McLane sees the condition of post-modernty evident in our flitting about from one intellectual fascination to the next. The intervening poems of a public intellectual could hardly be less concerned with what Laura Riding called "the reasons for poetry." There's a hard shimmer of gamesmanship in her nonce pastiches. What it's "nostalgia" to "think otherwise, | or true," is just that unreconstructed urbanity in "Strange | to live in historical skin | the freckles the age spots | the pale privilege made | by ancestors I cannot name."
Truly an exceptional collection of poetry, "World Enough" is unlike anything I have read before and I really do mean it. Everything I knew about form and style before this book were totally changed by the sheer lack of form in these poems, yet at the same time they were so musical and their structuring made sense. It was wonderful to see such a wide range of ideas that all lead back to the same theme. The only downside is that some poems got a little too abstract for me at a certain point and I lost the gist of the poem for a bit, but otherwise this collection was perfect. I think with a few more years of experience and revisiting this one in the future I'll love it even more than I already do.
The poems I like best in this book are the ones that deal with places, maybe because these poems are full of satisfying specificity: Vermont and its lake and gulls, Saratoga in summer rain, L.A. with its oleander and "Hockney blue" pools and, perhaps my favorite poems of all, the ones about Paris in the third section of the book—poems like "Jardin du Luxembourg" or poems like "Palais Royal" with its "bankers on lunchbreak/and grandmas with children" soaking up the sun by the fountain.
Unique style and tone - would recommend strongly!