cover image World Enough

World Enough

Maureen N. McLane, . . Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25 (131pp) ISBN 978-0-374-29295-9

McLane is a professor of English at NYU, a prolific book critic and specialist in British romanticism. Her academic proclivities are readily apparent in her second collection: “what is called thinking/ is obsessing” she writes, echoing and answering the German philosopher Martin Heidegger. This book has the overall feel of a poetic diary, with meditations on the changing seasons, travel, politics, love affairs, and the mind itself, as McLane (Same Life ) ventures to understand, via various methods, what it means to live in a particular epoch: “The question/ is the ratio of the palpable hurt/ to the general session/ of life in an era.” There, and elsewhere, McLane crosses the streams of academic and accessibly passionate language, creating a kind of emotional, autobiographical criticism in hip free verse: “rain rain and the trees/ engulfed I am tired/ of reading Russians their suffering/ souls their tribulations.” McLane, armed with a sharp wit, engages in an ambitious poetic project, as she confronts the very meaning of “the shadowed hours” of time past, present, and future. (June)