July 14, 2020
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When author and scholar Maureen McLane comes to Kenyon in September, the audience can expect readings of her poems and essays, of course. But they should prepare for a few “divagations,” too.
McLane will present her talk, “A Reading with Divagations,” sponsored by the Department of English and faculty lectureships, on Thursday, Sept. 4, at 4:10 p.m. in the Cheever Seminar Room in Finn House.
Divagation, McLane said, “means a kind of digression or a wandering, so I will come with very prepared things to say, but I also have a number of moments with little digression where I might talk about some of my work as both a poet but also a scholar.
“I think a lot of my critical process is directed thinking, and I think a lot of what comes out of poems is daydream, musing, undirected thinking,” she added. “But there’s always commerce between those parts of your mind.”
McLane is an associate professor of English at New York University whose collection of essays, My Poets, was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography. Her many published works include poetry, memoir and criticism.
“I just love the way her mind and imagination and smarts and good humor and depth move back and forth between all of these things — the poetic, the critical, the personal,” said Jennifer Clarvoe, professor of English, who invited McLane to campus. “I thought that that would make a really good model for Kenyon students.”
McLane plans on reading unpublished works and excerpts from My Poets and the poetry collection This Blue, which came out this spring. “Kenyon has such an amazing literary profile, so it’s very familiar to me,” said McLane, who has published poems in The Kenyon Review.
Her most recent book of poetry, This Blue, was published in 2014 to favorable reviews. “This is not the literary equivalent of Ambien — comforting verse meant to ship you off to dreamland,” wrote Jeff Gordinier in The New York Times Book Review. “These are poems that keep you on your toes, and McLane makes you aware of that right from the start.”
Photo credit: Joanna Eldredge Morrissey