by Maureen N. McLane
University of Chicago Press, 2024
Paper: 978-0-226-83264-7 | eISBN: 978-0-226-83265-4 | Cloth: 978-0-226-83038-4
Library of Congress Classification PR502.M35 2024
Dewey Decimal Classification 808.1

Acclaimed poet and critic Maureen N. McLane offers an experimental work of criticism ranging across Romantic and contemporary poetry.

In My Poetics, Maureen N. McLane writes as a poet, critic, theorist, and scholar—but above all as an impassioned reader. Written in an innovative, conversable style, McLane’s essays illuminate her own poetics and suggest more generally all that poetics can encompass. Ranging widely from romantic-era odes and hymns to anonymous ballads to haikus and haibuns to modernist and contemporary poetries in English, My Poetics explores poems as speculative instruments and as ways of registering our very sense of being alive. McLane pursues a number of open questions: How do poems generate modes for thinking? How does rhyme help us measure out thought? What is the relation of poetry to its surroundings, and how do specific poems activate that relation?

If, as Wallace Stevens wrote, “poetry is the scholar’s art,” My Poetics flies under a slightly different banner: study and criticism are also the poet’s art. Punctuated with McLane’s poems and drawing variously on Hannah Arendt, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Roland Barthes, Bruno Latour, and other writers and poets, My Poetics is a formally as well as intellectually adventurous work. Its artful arrangement of readings and divagations shows us a way to be with poems and poetics.

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