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About this poet

On April 10, 1945, Norman Dubie was born in Barre, Vermont. He began writing poetry at eleven, and was influenced by John Keats and D. H. Lawrence. During Dubie's childhood, his father had a religious conversion, began studying theology, and moved the family to New Hampshire. The young Dubie watched his father become politically active in his parish and encourage support of the civil rights movement.

After finishing high school, Dubie had hoped to play football for West Point, but instead followed his father's wishes and enrolled at the University of New Hampshire at Durham, where he failed every subject except English and Geology. Dubie took nine months off from his studies and was later rejected by the draft due to high blood pressure. He enrolled at Goddard College in Vermont and received his BA in 1965. He then received a fellowship from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he earned his MFA in 1968, as well as an invitation to stay on as a member of the program's regular faculty.

Dubie's first book, Alehouse Sonnets, was written during a blizzard while he was still a graduate student. The manuscript of poems was chosen as a runner-up for the International Poetry Forum Prize and was later published by the University of Pittsburg Press in 1971. Richard Howard, one of the poets on the jury, urged Dubie to establish an MFA program at Arizona State University in Tempe, and in 1975 Dubie accepted a position there as consultant in the arts and launched their creative writing program, though he did not accept the title of director.

During 1975, Dubie published four books of poetry, and a year later received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Since then, he has published numerous collections of poetry, including The Quotations of Bone (Copper Canyon Press, 2015); The Volcano (Copper Canyon Press, 2010); The Insomniac Liar of Topo (Copper Canyon Press, 2007); Ordinary Mornings of a Coliseum (Copper Canyon Press, 2004); The Mercy Seat: Collected & New Poems 1967-2001 (Copper Canyon Press, 2001), Selected and New Poems (W. W. Norton, 1986), and The Clouds of Magellan (Recursos de Santa Fe, 1992). His work has been translated into more than thirty languages.

In an interview published in American Poetry Review, Dubie said that he aims to "challenge whatever the assumed limits of the lyric are." He is well known for poems that invoke the characters and voices of other writers and artists such as Chekhov, Proust, Ingmar Bergman, Rodin, and many others.

Dubie has received the Bess Hokin Prize from the Poetry Foundation and the 2002 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Poetry, as well as fellowships and grants from the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives and teaches in Tempe, Arizona.


Selected Bibliography

The Quotations of Bone (Copper Canyon Press, 2015)
The Volcano (Copper Canyon Press, 2010)
The Insomniac Liar of Topo (Copper Canyon Press, 2007)
Ordinary Mornings of a Coliseum (Copper Canyon Press, 2004)
The Mercy Seat: Collected & New Poems 1967-2001 (Copper Canyon Press, 2001)
Selected and New Poems (W. W. Norton, 1983) 
The Clouds of Magellan (Recursos de Santa Fe, 1992)
In the Dead of the Night (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1976)
Alehouse Sonnets (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1971)

Of Politics, & Art

Norman Dubie, 1945

for Allen

Here, on the farthest point of the peninsula
The winter storm
Off the Atlantic shook the schoolhouse.
Mrs. Whitimore, dying
Of tuberculosis, said it would be after dark
Before the snowplow and bus would reach us.

She read to us from Melville.

How in an almost calamitous moment
Of sea hunting
Some men in an open boat suddenly found themselves
At the still and protected center
Of a great herd of whales
Where all the females floated on their sides
While their young nursed there. The cold frightened whalers
Just stared into what they allowed
Was the ecstatic lapidary pond of a nursing cow's
One visible eyeball.
And they were at peace with themselves.

Today I listened to a woman say
That Melville might
Be taught in the next decade. Another woman asked, "And why not?"
The first responded, "Because there are
No women in his one novel."

And Mrs. Whitimore was now reading from the Psalms.
Coughing into her handkerchief. Snow above the windows.
There was a blue light on her face, breasts and arms.
Sometimes a whole civilization can be dying
Peacefully in one young woman, in a small heated room
With thirty children
Rapt, confident and listening to the pure
God rendering voice of a storm.

From The Mercy Seat: New and Selected Poems 1967-2000 by Norman Dubie. Copyright © 2000 by Norman Dubie. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press (www.coppercanyonpress.org). All rights reserved.

From The Mercy Seat: New and Selected Poems 1967-2000 by Norman Dubie. Copyright © 2000 by Norman Dubie. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press (www.coppercanyonpress.org). All rights reserved.

Norman Dubie

Norman Dubie

The author of numerous collections of poetry, Norman Dubie is the recipient of the Bess Hokin Prize and the 2012 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Poetry, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others.

by this poet

poem

In the cold heavy rain, through
its poor lens, 
a woman
who might be a man
writes with a can of blue paint
large numbers
on the sides of beached whales—

even on the small one who is still
living, heaving 
there next to its darkening mother
where the
poem

There were carols on the kitchen radio, a late
cold night, entering the room
while straightening the blistered Navajo rug, I
remembered suddenly what the first eight notes
of hark, the herald angels sing felt like
vibrating through my body that first time—
I was eleven and

2
poem
                     —an ars poetica


I remember the death, in Russia,
of postage stamps 
like immense museum masterpieces
patchwork
wrapped in linen, tea stained,
with hemp for strapping...

these colored stamps designed for foreign places
were even printed during famine—
so when they vanished, so did