poem index


David Bottoms

Printer-friendly version
David Bottoms

David Bottoms was born in 1949 in Canton, Georgia. His most recent work includes Otherworld, Underworld, Prayer Porch (Copper Canyon Press, 2018) and We Almost Disappear (Copper Canyon Press, 2011). His first collection, Shooting Rats at the Bibb County Dump (1980), was selected by Robert Penn Warren for the 1979 Walt Whitman Award.

His poems have appeared in many magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, The Kenyon Review, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The Southern Review. He also serves as editor for Five Points literary magazine.

About Bottoms's work, the poet and novelist James Dickey said, "One cannot read him without being nerve-touched by his sardonic yet compassionate countryman's voice, his hunter's irony. Bottoms has come into American poetry quickly; his place is already high, and will be higher."

His honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Levinson Prize, an Ingram-Merrill Award, an American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

Bottoms is currently the Poet Laureate of Georgia and holds the Amos Distinguished Chair in English Letters at Georgia State University.




Otherworld, Underworld, Prayer Porch (Copper Canyon Press, 2018)
We Almost Disappear (Copper Canyon Press, 2011)
Waltzing through the Endtime (Copper Canyon Press, 2004)
Vagrant Grace (Copper Canyon Press, 1999)
Armored Hearts: Selected and New Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 1995)
Under the Vulture Tress (William Morrow & Co, 1987)
Shooting Rats at the Bibb County Dump (William Morrow & Co, 1980)

Oglethorpe's Dream: A Picture of Georgia (University of Georgia Press , 2011)
Easter Weekend (Louisiana State Univ Press, 1990)
Any Cold Jordan (Peachtree Publishers, 1987)

by this poet

Loaded on beer and whiskey, we ride 
to the dump in carloads
to turn our headlights across the wasted field, 
freeze the startled eyes of rats against mounds of rubbish.

Shot in the head, they jump only once, lie still 
like dead beer cans.
Shot in the gut or rump, they writhe and try to burrow 
into garbage,
The river was off-limits, but occasionally a foul ball would fly back
over the press box, over the narrow drive
and down the hill,
and there we were—where what we called the ballpark rock
jutted into the Etowah.
On hot nights
Sometimes when she sleeps, her face against the pillow (or sheet)
almost achieves an otherworldly peace.

Sometimes when the traffic and bother of the day dissolve
and her deeper self eases out, when sunlight edges 

through curtains and drapes the bed, I know she’s in another place, 
a purer place, which