Turning bare description into a luxuriance, The Known World looks at the complex relationship of past and present, creating energetic juxtaposition between different historic periods to envision life at the end of our own century. Don Bogen calls the work an archeology, and uses details f life in past eras as a way of penetrating the surfaces of history. In his account, everything known is both encumbered with and defined by the past. Short poems in this collection cohere around the long title poem, which explores the nineteenth century through more than thirty sections in different voices and styles, including lists, mock letters, brief narratives, and lyric passages. The result is lively and illuminating.