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About this poet

Mark Doty was born on August 10, 1953. He is the author of several collections of poetry, most recently Deep Lane (W. W. Norton, 2015); A Swarm, A Flock, A Host: A Compendium of Creatures (Prestel, 2013); Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins, 2008), which received the National Book Award; School of the Arts (HarperCollins, 2005); Source (HarperCollins, 2002); and Sweet Machine (HarperCollins, 1998).

Other collections include Atlantis (HarperCollins, 1995), which received the Ambassador Book Award, the Bingham Poetry Prize, and a Lambda Literary Award; My Alexandria (University of Illinois Press, 1993), chosen by Philip Levine for the National Poetry Series, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and Britain's T. S. Eliot Prize, and was also a National Book Award finalist; Bethlehem in Broad Daylight (D.R. Godine, 1991); and Turtle, Swan (D.R. Godine, 1987).

In 2010, Graywolf Press published a collection of essays on poetry titled The Art of Description: World into Word, in which Doty asserts that "poetry concretizes the singular, unrepeatable moment; it hammers out of speech a form for how it feels to be oneself."

He has also published Heaven's Coast (HarperCollins, 1996), which received the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction. Other memoirs by Doty includes Firebird (HarperCollins, 1999), Still Life with Oysters and Lemon: On Objects and Intimacy (Beacon Press, 2000), and Dog Years (HarperCollins, 2007). He has also edited The Best American Poetry 2012.

Doty has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Whiting Foundation. He served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2011 to 2016.

He has taught at the University of Houston and is currently serving as a Distinguished Writer at Rutgers University. He currently lives in New York City.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

A Swarm, A Flock, A Host: A Compendium of Creatures (Prestel, 2013)
Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins, 2008)
School of the Arts (HarperCollins, 2005)
Source (HarperCollins, 2002)
Sweet Machine (HarperCollins, 1998)
Atlantis (HarperCollins, 1995)
My Alexandria (University of Illinois Press, 1993)
Bethlehem in Broad Daylight (D.R. Godine, 1991)
Turtle, Swan (D.R. Godine, 1987)

Nonfiction

Dog Years (HarperCollins, 2007)
Still Life with Oysters and Lemon: On Objects and Intimacy (Beacon Press, 2000)
Firebird (HarperCollins, 1999)
Heaven's Coast (HarperCollins, 1996)

To Jackson Pollock

Last night somebody murdered a young tree on Seventh Avenue
between 18th and 19th—only two in that block,
and just days ago we'd taken refreshment in the crisp and particular shade

of that young ginkgo's tight leaves, its beauty and optimism,
though I didn't think of that word until the snapped trunk this morning,
a broken broomstick discarded, and tell me what pleasure

could you take from that? Maybe I understand it,
the sudden surge of rage and the requirement of a gesture,
but this hour I place myself firmly on the side of thirst,

the sapling's ambition to draw from the secret streams
beneath this city, to lift up our subterranean waters.
Power in a pointless scrawl now on the pavement.

Pollock, when he swung his wild arcs in the barn-air
by Accabonac, stripped away incident and detail till all
that was left was swing and fall and return,

austere rhythm deep down things, beautiful
because he's subtracted the specific stub and pith,
this wreck on the too-hot pavement where scavengers

spread their secondhand books in the scalding sunlight.
Or maybe he didn't. Erase it I mean: look into the fierce ellipse
of his preserved gesture, and hasn't he swept up every bit,

all the busted and incomplete, half-finished and lost?
Alone in the grand rooms of last century's heroic painters
—granted entrance, on an off day, to a museum

with nobody, thank you, this once nobody talking—
and for the first time I understood his huge canvases
were prayers. No matter to what. And silent as hell;

he rode the huge engine of his attention toward silence,
and silence emanated from them, and they would not take no
for an answer, though there is no other. Forget supplication,

beseechment, praise. Look down
into it, the smash-up swirl, oil and pigment and tree-shatter:
tumult in equilibrium.

Copyright © by Mark Doty. Used with the permission of the author.

Copyright © by Mark Doty. Used with the permission of the author.

Mark Doty

Mark Doty

Mark Doty is the author of several collections of poetry, including Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, which received the 2008 National Book Award. He served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2011 to 2016.

by this poet

poem

Grateful for their tour
of the pharmacy,
the first-grade class
has drawn these pictures,
each self-portrait taped
to the window-glass,
faces wide to the street,
round and available,
with parallel lines for hair.

I like this one best: Brian,
whose attenuated name

poem

For his birthday, I gave Stanley a hyacinth bean,
an annual, so he wouldn't have to wait for the flowers.

He said, Mark, I have just the place for it!
as if he'd spent ninety-eight years

anticipating the arrival of this particular vine.

I thought poetry a brace against time,

poem

Between the bridge and the river
he falls through
a huge portion of night;
it is not as if falling

is something new. Over and over
he slipped into the gulf
between what he knew and how
he was known. What others wanted

opened like an abyss: the laughing
stock-clerks at