By Maureen N. McLane
(Farrar Straus Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374217495, 273pp.)
Publication Date: June 19, 2012
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A thrillingly original exploration of a life lived under poetry's uniquely seductive spell
"Oh there are spirits of the air," wrote Percy Bysshe Shelley. In this stunningly original book Maureen N. McLane channels the spirits and voices that make up the music in one poet's mind. Weaving criticism and memoir, "My Poets" explores a life reading and a life read. McLane invokes in "My Poets" not necessarily the best poets, nor the most important poets (whoever these might be), but those writers who, in possessing her, made her. "I am marking here what most marked me," she writes. Ranging from Chaucer to H.D. to William Carlos Williams to Louise Gluck to Shelley (among others), McLane tracks the "growth of a poet's mind," as Wordsworth put it in "The Prelude." In a poetical prose both probing and incantatory, McLane has written a radical book of experimental criticism. Susan Sontag called for an "erotics of interpretation": this is it. Part "Bildung," part dithyramb, part exegesis, "My Poets" extends an implicit invitation to you, dear reader, to consider who your "my poets," or "my novelists," or "my filmmakers," or "my pop stars," might be.