cover image What You Want

What You Want

Maureen McLane. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (128p) ISBN 978-0-374-60725-8

Facing threats of environmental collapse and her own mortality, McLane (Some Say) pushes on the boundaries of selfhood in her enlightening offering. The collection begins by setting the scene: a seemingly hopeless present in which “the sealed-in elect to survive” and “the drowners to drown.” In the poem “Self-Reliance,” McLane probes the contradictions and limits of the concept, utilizing her texting software’s auto-correct feature to gesture at the slippages between the voice of the self and a larger, more varied community of intelligences: “My preferred pronouns/ are we and we and I// sink into the self/ at my risk. Our/ s. O dialectic!” Challenging narratives that center the individual at the expense of the collective, McLane imagines a world where “anyone could walk in/ my mind.” Later pieces incorporate overheard speech to approximate what such openness might feel like, and the final lines of the collection gesture toward hope through radical listening: “I haven’t given up/ yet! we haven’t!/ The connectivity is good!/ Today every conversation/ found an open channel.” With humor and insight, this points the way toward a more humane and expansive understanding. (May)