Mapping the Heart: Reflections on Place and Poetry


In the personal and critical essays of Mapping the Heart Wesley McNair, one of New England's most important poets, discusses the impact of place on his own poetry and the work of several other literary New Englanders, past to present. He also explains the ways poets of his climate have influenced each other, how poets think about their craft, and what poetry is.

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"Mapping the Heart, a collection of essays from the heart, pulses with the empathy its author feels for his subjects: the poets and landscape of New England. McNair holds nothing back from the reader, not his own difficult and impoverished childhood, not the long dry times between books of poems as he was forced to juggle home, academia, and poetry in a tight arc. To Emily Dickinson he brings a refreshing approach, to Robert Francis an overdue homage. This rewarding book is brightened by McNair's lively candor."

—Maxine Kumin

"In Mapping the Heart, Wesley McNair presents lively and engaging essays that explore the craft of poetry in our time. The author, himself a splendid poet, understands poetry from the inside and only an accomplished writer can. McNair enlivens his critical reflections with memorable character sketches and counterpoints his meditations on poetry with humorous anecdotes about people and places. Anyone with an interest in poetry should relish this book."

— George Core, Editor of The Sewanee Review