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About this poet

Born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 16, 1943, Philip Lopate received a bachelor's degree at Columbia University and a PhD at Union Graduate School.

His most recent book of poetry, At the End of the Day (Marsh Hawk Press, 2010) brings together the majority of his poems, most of which were written during the early years of his career as a writer. His other books of poetry include The Daily Round (Sun, 1976) and The Eyes Don't Always Want to Stay Open (Sun, 1972).

He is also the author of numerous essay collections, including: Portrait Inside My Head (Free Press, 2013); To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction (Free Press, 2013); Notes on Sontag (Princeton University Press, 2009); Getting Personal: Selected Writings (Basic Books, 2003); and Portrait of My Body (Anchor, 1996), which was a finalist for the PEN Spielvogel-Diamonston Award. He has also written the novels Two Marriages (Other Press, 2008) and The Rug Merchant (Penguin Books, 1987).

Of his work, the poet Marie Ponsot writes, “The pleasures of Lopate’s poems are urban and urbane. He takes notice, he reports, he has a heart. And more: he stirs in us literature’s ungovernable alchemic hope, as his truth-saying transforms his anecdotes, and precipitates poems.”

Among his many awards are grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the New York Public Library, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Before holding the John Cranford Adams Chair at Hofstra University, Lopate taught at Fordham, the University of Houston, and New York University, and Bennington College. He currently lives in New York City, where he is the director of the nonfiction graduate program at Columbia University.




Selected Bibliography

Poetry

At the End of the Day (Marsh Hawk Press, 2010)
The Daily Round (Sun, 1976)
The Eyes Don't Always Want to Stay Open (Sun, 1972)

Prose

Portrait Inside My Head (Free Press, 2013)
To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction (Free Press, 2013)
Notes on Sontag (Princeton University Press, 2009)
Getting Personal: Selected Writings (Basic Books, 2003)
Portrait of My Body (Anchor Books, 1996)

Fiction

Two Marriages (Other Press, 2008)
Confessions of Summer (Doubleday, 1995)
The Rug Merchant (Penguin Books, 1988)
 

The Last Slow Days of Summer

Phillip Lopate, 1943
"BE YOUR OWN MASTER!" says the Vedanta Society sign. 
Why not?…In the park
Some clouds roll over me like Greenland on a map. 
If I wanted to I could imagine I was flying over
The Greenland coast and gazing down at the white fjords. 
Instead I'm lying on the grass, listening to city sounds. 
They come to me in three-dimensional form,
Like a loaf of Wonder Bread. Baby carriages squeak 
Near the middle. Cars humming through Central Park, 
Somewhere near the back of the loaf.
What sound would be the end-piece, the round brown sliver? 
The unzipping of airline bags.
Or a glove thwacked
By a rookie pitcher who falls apart
In the eighth inning. The manager takes the ball silently, 
Like a man who has eaten a full loaf of bread
And has a stomach pain. Don't glamorize silence.
There is nothing profound about quiet, it is usually 
Only the universe holding its stomach.
Delmore Schwartz must have been a great talker. 
They say he put most of his talent into his life
But I don't know, I think his prose is pretty great; 
He made a better storywriter than a poet.
I could write a thousand-page biography
Propounding that stance, and interview all the old rummy 
Critics who are powerful now; 
They would let their hair down about Delmore,
And the final crackup.
The reason I'm thinking of Delmore Schwartz is that 
He wrote a poem about city parks. And it wasn't that successful,
It went on for about twelve pages, but I admired him 
For writing a poem with so little point,
And so much prosy description. I think he was trying to 
Eulogize normal middle-class happiness on a Sunday afternoon,
And how he felt out of it. But that wouldn't have 
Taken twelve pages…He was probably being ironic 
About the people's happiness, and secretly thought 
They weren't happy. He wrote it about the same time 
Robert Moses was carving out his parks empire
By forcing the Long Island millionaires to give up their privacy 
So that the middle class could get to the beach.
Of course it was also supposed to benefit
The poor slum-dwellers, but how many of them 
Ever made it to Sunken Meadows?
Or Jones Beach?
What's strange about parks—innocent greenery—
Is that no one ever suspected them to ruin New York. 
Yet what finally gutted the city were the parkways 
Moses built, slashed through all five boroughs 
Quiet lower-middle-class neighborhoods bulldozed 
For cars to get to the picnic grounds faster,
Or the Hamptons—
A life of paperwork capped by a summer home.
But I can't blame them: I'd like a summer home myself! 
I don't really believe New York is dying, no more than 
The universe is dying. I have no stake in seeing
This poem end pessimistically.
I'd like to leave people with a good feeling.
Robert Moses, Delmore Schwartz.
Two ambitious Jews, like myself.
They tried to be their own masters…
It's hard to imagine New York going under 
On a slow summer day like today
Without even a loud noise to mark it
Like the Empire State Building keeling over 
And everyone running to the scene of default.
The helicopters will be standing by, 
Ready to take us to Greenland.
A special airlift for poetic men of letters,
A jumbo Boeing crammed to the teeth, 
And you can't get in if your name isn't 
Listed in Poets and Writers Directory. 
"So long, New York School of Poets!" 
I'll stay behind, tending the weeds
And sleeping in deserted Central Park.
Soon I'll be hearing about the Godthaab School:
Their seemingly infinite talent for "chatty brilliance," 
Buddhism, and marathon readings.
I'll shake my head and sigh: What are 
Anne and Michael doing now?
How was this year's big Halloween party,
Or do they even celebrate Halloween in Greenland?
Maybe they're into solstice holidays, like Midsummer Night.

"The Last Slow Days of Summer" from At the End of the Day: Selected Poems and an Introductory Essay, copyright © 2009 by Phillip Lopate. Used by permission of Marsh Hawk Press.

"The Last Slow Days of Summer" from At the End of the Day: Selected Poems and an Introductory Essay, copyright © 2009 by Phillip Lopate. Used by permission of Marsh Hawk Press.

Phillip Lopate

Phillip Lopate

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1943, Philip Lopate received a Bachelor's

by this poet

poem
You are not me, and I am never you
except for thirty seconds in a year
when ecstasy of coming,
laughing at the same time
or being cruel to know for certain
what the other's feeling
charge some recognition.

Not often when we talk though.
Undressing to the daily logs
of this petty boss, that compliment,
curling
poem
A friend called up saying he was in a pre-suicidal mood.
I told him to come over.
I'd pay for the taxi.
"Will you go back with me to my apartment if I start to panic?"
I told him I would.
He arrived feeling chipper.
He wanted some wine.
I gave him a little cold sauterne that had been sitting
around in the icebox
poem
to Carol
1.

Our room, says the lady of the house
is nicer than one in a motel
                              and she's right
second-storey bay windows
a mushy double bed T.V.
and sportsman and gun magazines

2.

We'll take it
But not the meal plan.

3.

It