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1. The Art of Description: World
2. Fire to Fire: New and Selected
3. Still Life With Oysters and Lemon:
4. Heaven's Coast: A Memoir
5. Dog Years: A Memoir (P.S.)
6. Source: Poems
7. Firebird: A Memoir
8. Turtle, Swan and Bethlehem in
9. Dog Years CD: A Memoir
10. School of the Arts: Poems
11. Atlantis
12. My Alexandria: POEMS (National
13. Dog Years
14. Open House: Writers Redefine Home-Graywolf
15. Poetry and Commitment
16. Dog Years
17. Seeing Venice: Bellotto's Grand
18. Heaven's Coast: A Memoir
19. Tell Me Who I Am: James Agee's
20. Bethlehem in Broad Daylight

1. The Art of Description: World into Word
by Mark Doty
Paperback: 128 Pages (2010-07-20)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$6.65
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1555975631
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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“It sounds like a simple thing, to say what you see,” Mark Doty begins. “But try to find words for the shades of a mottled sassafras leaf, or the reflectivity of a bay on an August morning, or the very beginnings of desire stirring in the gaze of someone looking right into your eyes . . .” Doty finds refuge in the sensory experience found in poems by Blake, Whitman, Bishop, and others. The Art of Description is an invaluable book by one of America’s most revered writers and teachers.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Description as a poetic quality
I found Doty's description of description helpful in writing my own poetry, and I'll try to remember the pointers of what makes a successfully descriptive poem.I also keep this book near at hand for reminders.

5-0 out of 5 stars Must read
I received this book and read it immediately, and have since read it again.I highly recommend this book. ... Read more

2. Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems
by Mark Doty
Hardcover: 336 Pages (2008-03-01)
list price: US$22.95 -- used & new: US$7.72
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B001RTS98I
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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Mark Doty's Fire to Fire collects the best of Mark Doty's seven books of poetry, along with a generous selection of new work. Doty's subjects—our mortal situation, the evanescent beauty of the world, desire's transformative power, and art's ability to give shape to human lives—echo and develop across twenty years of poems. His signature style encompasses both the plainspoken and the artfully wrought; here one of contemporary American poetry's most lauded, recognizable voices speaks to the crises and possibilities of our times.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Fire Burns A Tragic Beauty in Doty's Latest Collection
Mark Doty's Fire To Fire is a carefully crafted presentation, a gallery of artistic finesse, showing Doty's solidity and influence in contemporary American poetry. This collection of poetry contains selections from each of his previous seven books of poetry with his newest poetry leading off the book. Contrary to the typical organization of poetry collections, Doty's Fire to Fire begins with fresh material so both old and new readers can engage with the writer Doty is today before they trace his development as a poet. The collection then continues with a chronological selection from each book beginning with Turtle, Swan and ending with School of the Arts. Doty's narrative style and his love of art, coupled with a dedication to craft and uncanny ability to extract beauty from urban decay makes for poetry that is not only easy to read but also poetry that resonates with a universal quest for meaning and truth in life. His connection with Modernism and the influence of Walt Whitman, Wallace Stevens, and William Carlos Williams, is evident but decidedly more apparent in earlier works such as "Homo Will not Inherit" (one of my personal favorites) and "Atlantis."In his newer works the Modernists become a ghostly residue, apparitions that show up as characters in his poems, still filtering through their influence but no longer the main style represented. For example, in "Apparition" the subject of the poem is an encounter the speaker has with the ghost of Walt Whitman. Doty is growing, focusing more on philosophical ruminations than narrative that centers on a concrete topic. The growth is evident on the series of poems describing his various contemplations on beauty, marriage, the soul, the sublime, etc. Poems such as "Apparition (favorite poem)" and "Theory of Narrative" also imply that Doty is going through a sort of reflective time during which he is also marinating his thoughts on writing and art. Although a couple of the other reviews on this page indicate that Doty's newer works are not as strong as his previous collections, I believe are a demonstration of his growth and poetic development and are essential to his remaining a dynamic artist. When people come to know an artist they automatically prejudice the works that the artist or writer was producing at the time. I urge you to not get stuck in the nostalgia of his early poetry and do not let his prior work prejudice you to his new poetry. Suspend your criticism and enjoy the writer Doty has become.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mark Doty is Great
Mark Doty is a wonderful contemporary poet and wortwhile in libraries of all poetry fans

4-0 out of 5 stars Good clear poems without nebulous intellectualization
Mark Doty's poems are clear and personal without being ambiguously intellectualized.Personal and intimate without being sentimental.Intelligent without being academic.This is not university workshop stuff.It comes from the outside world of a variety of cities, towns and provinces.The 300+ pages of selected poems offer a great general overview of the poet's work up to now.The back cover shows enthusiastic endorsements from Phillip Levine, Mary Oliver, Robert Pinski, and Alan Shapiro. Amazon makes the book easily available from various sources and economical.

4-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful poems on death and desire
Some of these poems I loved, simply loved.Doty writes terrific narrative poems, but, unfortunately, the more recent poems tend to concentrate on images and not on narrative and become somewhat precious.Still, he can make the top of your head rise with pleasure and understanding.

4-0 out of 5 stars BURNING BRIGHT
Mark Doty is one of our most courageous and important cultural voices, both because of his unflinching subject matter and the ground he occupies in the aesthetic debates of late modernism. This volume of New and Selected poems justly deserves the National Book Award it has recently received. It's important to note that "Turtle, Swan", his wonderful first volume, sadly underrepresented here by only two poems, came out just when public awareness of the AIDS crisis was hitting a crescendo (1987). In many respects, Doty occupies the same position in the poetry of that era that his near contemporary David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992) does in the visual arts. Doty's elegies to lost friends and lovers, his straightforward depiction of city life in the 1980s and 1990s, and his lyrical infusion of homoeroticism into almost all of his poems, whatever their ostensible subject, reached an early apotheosis in his third book "My Alexandria" (1993). Both "Atlantis" (1995) and "Sweet Machine" (1998) continued in this ecstatic, powerful, life-affirming mode, the poems employing clear narrative, sharp diction, and strict attention to sound and natural details. Doty is dog-crazy, art-mad and besotted with flowers. His ekphrastic poems are among his best because he always takes the radiant side of beauty in any aesthetic debate. In the books of the current decade, the new work becomes somewhat more opaque, more self-consciously experimental, more dependent on the closing line or a starkly stated theme for impact. Still, even the last decade has work that bears comparison with his best. Among the latter, you will never forget your first encounter with "Night Ferry", "No", "A Green Crab's Shell", the first section of "Atlantis", "Crepe de Chine", or "White Kimono". There are dozens of others that bear re-reading and, if you are a writer, close study: Doty's technical brilliance is so understated it feels like close-up magic. ... Read more

3. Still Life With Oysters and Lemon: On Objects and Intimacy
by Mark Doty
Paperback: 80 Pages (2002-01-19)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.81
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0807066095
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
From Mark Doty, one of our finest poets, a delicate and sensual literary essay. Part memoir, part art history, part meditation, this hybrid volume uses the great Dutch still life paintings of the seventeenth century as a departure point for an examination of uestions about our relationships with things, how we invest them with human store, how they hold feeling and hope and history within them.

Mark Doty is author of five books of poems and two memoirs, Heaven's Coast and Firebird. He has also received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Martha Allrand Prize for Nonfiction. He teaches at the University of Houston. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Book as a work of Art
Wow what a book!As an artist myself I swooned over the entire opening when Mr. Doty describes being overtaken by the painting.Every artist longs for someone to be so smitten. Overall this book is such a rare treat in the seamless merging of art & poetry. I'm not sure where in this small treasure the switch was flipped for me from I'm-reading-a-book to I've never read a poem like this. It seems everything became a still life after his experience with the painting, every object thoughtfully pondered, every event given a new view. I don't think I've ever read a better description of light and clearly (thankfully) he got caught in it's magic. Thank you Mr. Doty for such a beautiful book!

3-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, but perhaps only because it comes very close
I found Doty's work to be disappointing. Mostly this is due to the fact that I think the ideas in the essay are wonderful. I love what he's attempting to do, this difficult "assay" at making very ephemeral sensations about art concrete, to make them comprehensible, to wrap his head and the reader's around them. The glorification of objects, of "bodies," is done wonderfully at times. At other times, to be completely honest, Doty's world was alive and magical to the point it gave me nausea. An example:

"Therein lies a large portion of the painting's poetry; these things form not a single whole but a concert, a community of separate presences; we are intended to compare their degrees of roundness, solidity, transparency, and opacity."

Okay, this is nice. Slightly meandering, but the form fits the function (I think), so that's just great.

Continuing with the same paragraph:

"They [the separate objects within the still life] are each a separate city, a separate child in a field of silent children. They speak back and fourth--do they?--across he distance between them. At dinner at my friends', I was seated with my back to the painting, but I felt its magnetism; I was trying to converse, I was conversing, but I felt still its pull, the strange silence of these separate things refusing to form a singular composition, as if it were my work to complete them, as if they needed and demanded me."

This is perhaps personal preference: That is simply too much for me. And this is a reoccuring problem. Further, some scenes are so hammered to death by Doty's detail of 'things' that I cannot inhabit them at all, there is no room for me, and thus I lose that interaction with art Doty is attempting to describe. I would assume Doty did this by intention, as another layer of his discussion of "bodies" and "things" and collecting them, and I think it's a compelling idea; I just don't think it works. I was disappointed that it didn't work, but it still didn't. Reading such sections became a chore.

Doty's structure throughout bends his central idea around many scenes and situations, which is wonderful, and by the time he gets to what I would call his climactic claim -- that still life distills the "I" to its quickest and most subtle: "a moment of attention, an intimate engagement" -- I'm completely on his side. In fact, beginning about halfway through with his description of an auctioneer and his relationship with his late partner, I was completely taken by the piece for a bit.

I would give this 3.5 stars if I could. I can't give it 4 because my overall sense after finishing was disappointment. I still recommend you read it.

1-0 out of 5 stars i was forced to read this in college
I bought the book but didnt read it but I'm pretty sure its a boring book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Luminous and suffused with life
In addition to fostering an appreciation of still life paintings in me, this book lit up my senses with the poetry of it all. Mark Doty, whose poems I have read and loved previously, has written a short book here that I could not stop reading. Every line I wanted to read and re-read to savor. Every line I wanted to mark or transcribe to enjoy again later. Like the painting masters he lauds, Mark is a peerless artist with words! What a joy -- full of the grace of life - this book was!

5-0 out of 5 stars Must read for anyone who loves art of any kind
This is such a timely book for me because I was watching one of the plethora of decorating shows on tv one slow day, while cleaning and kept asking myself why so many homes by decorators have items that have no personal or deeply held memories for the people they are decorating for.

Its as if in this materialistic world we Americans live in, we see homes with 'filler' stuff. Stuff which is meant to make the place look special like in a magazine.

Thus I stood back and savored the pieces we have in our home and reminded myself of what Sister Wendy's works on art and artists had reminded me, which was to be still and realllllly look at a piece if art. Ponder the person who created it.Look at that painting and see the hidden treasures within it.

A book to love. ... Read more

4. Heaven's Coast: A Memoir
by Mark Doty
Paperback: 320 Pages (1997-03-12)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$3.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060928050
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The year is 1989 and Mark Doty's life has reached a state of enviable equilibrium. His reputation as a poet of formidable talent is growing, he enjoys his work as a college professor and, perhaps most importantly, he is deeply in love with his partner of many years, Wally Roberts. The harmonious existence these two men share is shattered, however, when they learn that Wally has tested positive for the HIV virus.

From diagnosis to the initial signs of deterioration to the heartbreaking hour when Wally is released from his body's ruined vessel, Heaven's Coastis an intimate chronicle of love, its hardships, and its innumerable gifts. We witness Doty's passage through the deepest phase of grief -- letting his lover go while keeping him firmly alive in memory and heart -- and, eventually beyond, to the slow reawakening of the possibilities of pleasure. Part memoir, part journal, part elegy for a life of rare communication and beauty, Heaven's Coast evinces the same stunning honesty, resplendent descriptive power and rapt attention to the physical landscape that has won Doty's poetry such attention and acclaim. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (32)

5-0 out of 5 stars poetic memoir about life and death and everything in between
Mark Doty's memoir, Heaven's Coast, is one of the most poetic books I've read in a long time.Ripe with the most vivid imagery, Doty's talent as a poet shines through in his prose.

In this book, Doty recounts the life and death of his lover Wally who succumbed to AIDS-related illness in the early 1990s.As Doty deals with this, he's also faced with the deaths of friends from AIDS and a very close friend who dies in a car accident.While all this sounds tragic, it's Doty's hopeful message that shines through.Parts of the story literally had me close to tears, but the articulation of hope and peace beyond grief - and survival through it - left me hopeful.

As an "AIDS" memoir, this is an important book to read for the younger generations of gays that didn't necessarily have to watch their loved ones struggle and die with this disease.It's important to remember a time when medicine wasn't as good as it is now, and to know what this plague has meant to the gay community.That being said, I think anyone who has ever lost a loved one can relate to the struggle through grief Doty so poetically describes.I can't say enough good things about this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Overcoming Loss
Heaven's Coast is a book about loss.Mark Doty approaches this topic through the loss of his beloved partner through AIDS, but, to me, this was not a book about AIDS.As some other reviews note, this topic has been covered by others probably more effectively.

First and foremost, Mark Doty is a poet.He views his life through images and metaphors.It is not surprising that he approaches personal loss in this same way?The power of the metaphor is that it is universal.It allows others to enter into the writer's thoughts without actually experience them.In this, Doty is masterful, and he uses this skill with Great power in Heaven's Coast.In doing so, he is able to describe loss - a feeling that is both deeply personal and yet universal.It may not be loss to AIDS - it may be loss of a relationship to addiction, loss of self-control to depression, loss of possessions to natural disasters.But it is all loss.Doty's writings help allow one's humanity to remain pinnacle during the time of loss.It may be submerged, but it is never loss. Looking for that essence of person-ality is what Doty emphasizes, and it is a message that transcends situation and becomes universal.Kudos to Doty for emphasizing this truth through his life story and captivating prose.

5-0 out of 5 stars 5 stars aren't nearly enough
Doty's memoir shimmers with love, with joy, with pain, with grief. His prose is as rich and lyrical as his poetry. He invites us into his soul as he describes in unsparing detail his lover's journey through HIV. Doty honors his partner with every word; the love and respect is obvious, as well as the despair that results from knowing what is to come and being totally powerless to prevent it.

This book is certainly a tangible gift from Mark to Wally, but the sheer beauty of the writing is a gift to the reader. I draw no sustenance from the ocean, yet I found myself longing to walk across the dunes of Cape Cod-Doty's use of language is that powerful.

Heaven's Coast should be required reading for all healthcare workers.

5-0 out of 5 stars A reader is correct.It isn't about Aids.
Nor was it supposed to be a book about AIDS.Doty writes magnificently about the loss of a loved one, and the grief, in its many forms, that follows.

If you want a book about AIDS, don't buy this.If, however, you want a book that honestly portrays one man's experience with devastating loss and how he begins the process of coming through it to the other side, this is the book for you.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Gorgeous Exploration of Grief...and moving on
HEAVEN'S COAST is Mark Doty's his first prose book and a stirring and stunning memoir of his year of grief following the death of his lover of a dozen years Wally Roberts.With this book Doty has created a genuine masterpiece.It is a brilliant and accessible memoir conveying sorrow without cliché and making sense of death through the beauty of writing.Death is no longer simply tragic but attains a variety of meanings that result in new levels of acceptance and understanding.His powerful emotional exactitude is culled from a brilliant mastery of language and a precise usage of metaphor.The combination transforms human loss into a redemptive art form.HEAVEN'S COAST is one of the most moving, beautiful, and poignant books to emerge on AIDS and more importantly on loss and grief. ... Read more

5. Dog Years: A Memoir (P.S.)
by Mark Doty
Paperback: 256 Pages (2008-04-01)
list price: US$13.99 -- used & new: US$0.02
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061171018
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

When Mark Doty decides to adopt a dog as a companion for his dying partner, he brings home Beau, a large, malnourished golden retriever in need of loving care. Joining Arden, the black retriever, to complete their family, Beau bounds back into life. Before long, the two dogs become Doty's intimate companions, and eventually the very life force that keeps him from abandoning all hope during the darkest days.

Dog Years is a poignant, intimate memoir interwoven with profound reflections on our feelings for animals and the lessons they teach us about living, love, and loss.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (32)

5-0 out of 5 stars Not for you if you want a book about dogs...
Quite simply,this is a beautifully written autobiography, which happens to be from the angle of Mr. Doty's relationships with his dogs over the years.
Not for "Marley and Me" readers at all.

4-0 out of 5 stars beautifully written
I thought this book was beautifully written and a heartfelt tribute to the dogs who change our lives.Mark Doty writes exceptionally well about love, loss and the ways in which pets can both shape the key moments in our lives (good or bad) and help us cope with them.

The book doesn't follow a chronological format and seems to be organized more around ideas than a sequence of events, in other words it isn't a single story like a novel would be.I liked this for the most part but felt occasionally that the author got a little bit convoluted in his own thoughts.It wasn't that there was anything I didn't enjoy, but sometimes I thought the author got sidetracked down roads that didn't serve the book overall.Hence the four stars.

However I definitely recommend this book for people who loved dogs, people who love good writing and people who are fans of Mark Doty in his other writings.You will enjoy this book!

2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing ....
My wife purchased this book originally and put it down after one chapter. Since we own two Goldens, and are rabid fans of the breed and their unique, wonderful attributes, I picked it up and after two chapters also lost interest in spite of it's original promise.

First, the author begins the memoir where the author of "Marlee and Me" ends the story. However, Mark Doty fails to build a relationship between his pet and the reader before launching into his own maudlin sentiments regarding his lost relationship and pet.

Second, Doty struggles trying to over intellectualize the obvious. Somewhat inane ideas, that dogs don't ruin their lives with written words or verbalization, are both obvious and irrelevant and certainly not conscious decisions on your dog's part. Chapter One could be better summarized with a simple statement, "Words can't capture the truths that a story or a picture convey." But instead of weaving a story, the reader is subjected to sentence after sentence trying but failing to express this elemental idea.

The author is gay and weaves his lifestyle and interest into the story as well. While I was interested in this aspect, I found that, again as with his pets, relationships with partners lacked development, substance ordepth.

Oh well, the library will get a donation for either placement or the annual book sale.

4-0 out of 5 stars Dog Years
Dog Years is a warm, insightful tale of the lives and the love between two people and their two dogs.There are not many books I would read more than once, but this one I will.Simple and heartwarming.

1-0 out of 5 stars Not really a dog story
Although he talks about his dogs, this is more about his views on life and his lame attempt to turn his poetry into prose. He should stick to writing poetry so that I won't be tricked into reading his verbose and idiosyncratic perceptions of reality. If you're looking for insight into dog-human relationships, look elsewhere. ... Read more

6. Source: Poems
by Mark Doty
Paperback: 96 Pages (2002-12-01)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$1.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060935405
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

This bold, wide-ranging collection -- his sixth book of poems -- demonstrates the unmistakable lyricism, fierce observation, and force of feeling that have made Mark Doty's poems special to readers on both sides of the Atlantic.

The poems in Source deepen Doty's exploration of the paradox of selfhood. They offer a complex, boldly colored self-portrait; their muscular lines argue fiercely with the fact of limit; they pulse with the drama of perception and the quest to forge meaning.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars "Private Life" much more than it seems
I typically don't raise issue with others' reviews. After all, most have been taught that a poem can have many interpretations. Yet to think of "Private Life" as a compassionate description of a beautiful caged creature is missing the point entirely, I think. In the first stanza, the speaker describes Little Kaiser (a caged parrot in a popular tourist destination) as being "confronted" by the noisy hecklers and insensitive tourists who pass him every day, acknowledging, "He doesn't seem to mind," the operative word there being "seem." Two stanzas later, we learn that his cage carries the warning, "I bite." [Obviously, he does mind.]

Then the speaker passively suggests, "He couldn't be said to be/lonely; all day the world comes to him." How could anyone who gets so much attention be lonely? When the speaker then describes the pedestrians as an "endless procession of faces, only a few of them known," the parrot takes on a much more human quality, and that's where the parrot turns into a metaphorical vehicle to describe the human condition in general, but a gay man's condition quite specifically. This metaphor gathers momentum in the last 5 or 6 stanzas, describing his tail as "stunning red,/a frank indulgence of the private life." [wink, nudge]

When the speaker shifts focus from the subject to the speaker ("What does Kaiser dream?"), (s)he develops a more philosophical posture rather than the one of the passive journalist from the beginning of the poem. First we are asked to imagine what Kaiser's not dreaming ("Probably no original paradise;/this little trooper was born in a shop."), invoking of course the story of the heterosexual, biblical Creation, of which we gay men obviously don't have an equivalent. Rather, we have been asked to acquire a gay culture that we're repeatedly relegated to and blindly accept.

The speaker then asks, "should he prefer a single,/perfect other?"...pointing to the cultural stereotype (accepted by gays and straights alike) of the idea that gay men are promiscuous and not easily tied down: "one human form/after another bent over him/in momentary delight, while he takes//their measure, and mouths a limited vocabulary, all greeting and praise." But that's enough communication for our parrot/gay man, the speaker's last description giving it to us most plainly just in case we missed it already: "promiscuous singer, whose tongue/lifts and curls out to the world, performing/all night in his blanketed cage."

Doty has dealt with similar subjects before, lamenting over such gay conundrums as the"austere code of tricks" or that "we are all on display in this town, sweet machines, powerless, consumed." But with "Private Life," [even the title suggests you look beyond the parrot, as Doty's title has] he's turned the sensitive, curious descriptions of a gay man at odds with his own "culture" in addition to the world itself into a more honest, indeed, unflinching, look at the way we move and process and feel...or (unfortunately) do none of these things.

5-0 out of 5 stars Revolutionary!
I don't mean to sound cranky, but I'm tired of hearing the words "beautiful" and "moving" in relationship to the work of Mark Doty. Of course his poems are these things, but they're much, much more. They're rigorous in their thinking; they're relentless in their questions about perception and mortality, and revolutionary in their evocation of a social and metaphysical vision. This is a poetry of ideas. It's a poetry that rolls up its sleeves and takes its reader gently--but FIRMLY--down "into the source of spring."

4-0 out of 5 stars A beautiful poetry collection
Doty's sixth book of poetry shows his elegant and strong style while exploring both public and private life. These poems luxuriate on the tongue and in the mind, and boldly paint vivid images in the readers' minds. Winner of a Lambda Literary Award for poetry, "Source" is a delightful example of Doty's works.

5-0 out of 5 stars Elegance!Compassion!A Real Pleasure!
Mark Doty in his latest collection of poems, continues to delight and entertain us with his brilliant style of writing that is elegant, compassionate, and unabashedly, and proudly gay.These poems are of a universal language, speaking to all sexual orientations, for they are not all gay themed verses.Doty's poems are always a real pleasure to read for they speak from the heart on subjects that are important and of interest to many of us who share his same ideals, thoughts, and feelings.I have always been a fan of his poems for that reason.As he describes the degradation of Walt Whitman's vision of a democratic America in "Letter to Walt Whitman", or of the joy and entertainment that "Little Kaiser" brings to so many people in "Private Life", I can not help but smile at the joy he sees and experiences in trying to get close to Whitman, and in exploring the inner thoughts of "Little Kaiser".I have to admit I am a little prejudiced toward these two lovely poems, for each has references to companion parrots.I loved the poem, "Letter to Walt Whitman" that Doty wrote after touring Whitman's home in Camden.He was trying to find something there that would make Whitman seem more real and still alive.He did when he discovered Whitman's parrot preserved by the taxidermist's wax, and wrote, "Then one thing made you seem alive: your parrot."And in "Private Life" we learn all about "Little Kaiser" the African Grey parrot, who has been a fixture for many years at the local headshop on Commercial Street in Provincetown.Doty has a way of describing all life beings with the beauty they so rightly deserve.

This sixth book of verse by Mark Doty is one I will be returning to many, many times.The poems in this collection cover a wide variety of subjects, and this creates an opportunity for everyone to find one of interest to them that will definitely become a favorite.The several poems he writes about Provincetown, a town I have come to care about and call a second home over the past quarter century, are my favorites.Doty seems to have the same feelings for this special place that I have.It is the beauty of his words that keep me looking forward to and eagerly awaiting his next collection of poems.A Real Pleasure!!

Joe Hanssen

5-0 out of 5 stars From the Source...
Mark Doty's, one of America's premiere poets, has done it again with his newest collection of literary gems, "Source".

Doty's poems cover a range of topics, from dead wildlife to working out, all exude a personal flair that enlightens and illuminates our existance while sharing his. His poetry both confounds and inspires; you read and question the meaning, and then, find a diamond mine of a line you cannot let go, and mentally ponder the treasure. Some poets aggreviate by not allowing access into their lives or meaning with their work; Doty opens the door, doesn't shy away from honesty or complex thought, and allows us to wander through his charming maze of words.

As a reader of his work, it's nice to see him returning to old familiar themes, especially those that mention Wally, a heart's love who perished due to AIDS. While we may write and write about those songs that inspire us, perhaps there can be never enough said about some things, and Doty casts a beautiful literary light on those topics with each passing year.

Source is an excellent add to your poetry collection. ... Read more

7. Firebird: A Memoir
by Mark Doty
Paperback: 228 Pages (2000-10-01)
list price: US$13.99 -- used & new: US$7.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060931973
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

In Firebird, Mark Doty tells the story of a ten-year-old in a top hat, cane, and red chiffon scarf, interrupted while belting out Judy Garland's "Get Happy" by his alarmed mother at the bedroom door, exclaiming, "Son, you're a boy!"

Firebird presents us with a heroic little boy who has quite enough worries without discovering that his dawning sexuality is the Wrong One. A self-confessed "chubby smart bookish sissy with glasses and a Southern accent," Doty grew up on the move, the family following his father's engineering work across America-from Tennessee to Arizona, Florida to California. A lyrical, heartbreaking comedy of one family's dissolution through the corrosive powers of alcohol, sorrow, and thwarted desire, Firebird is also a wry evocation of childhood's pleasures and terrors, a comic tour of American suburban life, and a testament to the transformative power of art.

Amazon.com Review
"Childhood's work is to see what lies beneath," Mark Doty writes in hismemoir, Firebird. And adulthood's work, he suggests, is to makesense of what the child-self once saw. Doty, a poet, does this remarkablywell, capturing the peculiar talismans of youth--"little cars of fragrantplastic whose wheels turn on wire axles that can be popped loose andexamined; hard candies; sweet, chalky wafers strung together into wristletsand necklaces"--as well as a child's experience of sin:
I am standing paralyzed by what I've done, there's a rush and roar from thedirection of the living room, my father rising from the couch, he's comingdown the hall, I'm afraid he's going to spank me, I remember the last time,the humiliation of it, him pulling my pants down on the porch and whalingme, his red face filled up with blood and rage, striking at me because whathave I done? Now I've done something plain and sharply lit like thebig shards of glass on the floor...
It's clear from the start that the author's home life was not happy. Hisfather's job with the Army Corps of Engineers kept the familycrisscrossing the country; his older sister got pregnant at 17--"thesegirls knew what they were doing, these girls married to get out"--and endedup, eventually, in prison; and his mother, a frustrated artist, sankeventually into depression and alcoholism. As if growing up in this familyduring the 1950s and '60s weren't difficult enough, Doty's homosexualityprovided additional anguish. A confrontation over his long hair led to ahumiliating scene at a barbershop where Doty's father had dragged him andended up with his attempted suicide at the age of 14. There are plenty moreheart-wrenching episodes like this, and at times you might wonder why you'dwant to put yourself through the ordeal of reading about them. Doty himselfseems aware of this. "Why tell a story like this, who wants to read it?" hedemands near the end of the book, then responds, "Even sad stories arecompany. And perhaps that's why you might read such a chronicle, to lookinto a companionable darkness that isn't yours." That may be one reason forreading Firebird; the other, undoubtedly, is Mark Doty's precise andlyrical prose, his acute perception, and his compassionate heart. --AlixWilber ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Identity Emerges through Art
As you read Mark Doty's memoir, you may wish you could reach back though the decades to the 1950's to let this sensitive, awkward, and talented gay boy know that he would some day find himself. Knowing you can't reach back, you watch the story unfold on its own and almost hold your breath lest he succumb to the stifling forces of that era.

Doty is the son of an artistic mother--who was also a tragic alcoholic--and an engineer father who moved the family often from job to job. Doty was often lonely and ostracized and filled with shame that he was somehow different. In that cultural milieu--before the internet and media exposure that we now take for granted--there was almost no context for an emerging gay identity. And Doty clearly suffered from that drought. He was always trying to find and sustain himself in this arid landscape.

What saved him was art. Throughout his childhood, just enough light and air was able to penetrate through art to keep him alive, starting with his mother's artistic pursuits, and continuing with the encouragement of a charismatic elementary school teacher, Miss Tynes, and, later, the mentoring of a poet, Richard Shelton, who taught at a university.

This is not to say that his survival was a foregone conclusion. Doty endured a suicide attempt and an apparent assault by his mother who once pointed a gun at him but could not remove the safety to get it to fire. Still, it is a testament to the tenacity of the human spirit that he could turn these encounters with art into a lifeline.

Toward the end of this memoir, we know that Doty has emerged on the other side, but not without collateral damage. He invested nine years in a marriage to a woman before he was willing to pursue his gay identify. He recalls a visit with his father and new stepmother (his own mother had died of alcoholism) and his then partner, Paul. While we're happy for his emergence, we know it comes with an imperfect combustion. He and his father will never be really close. His mother's half love and half loathing for him and her gruesome death cannot be undone. Like all adult stories, it is a partial victory, but one we can celebrate nonetheless.

If you are ever called to reach back in time for a self that was struggling to emerge, you will be richly rewarded by reading Doty's memoir.

5-0 out of 5 stars A childhood survived - barely
Much has been made about being gay in various notes and reviews of this blazingly honest book. But I don't think it's quite as zeroed in on sexual preference as, say, Edmund White's autobiography,My Lives. Firebird is, first of all, a book about a very messed-up childhood with parents with plenty of problems of their own. Like a lot of other adult men - gay and straight - Doty continues to struggle with his relationship with his father. His scene of an actual physical confrontation, at the age of fourteen, with his father struck a nerve with me, as I remembered a nearly identical thing between me and my dad, also when I was about fourteen. And I remembered how frightening it was to me, at least briefly, wondering what I would do if my folks actually kicked me out. Doty was apparently cut loose by his parents, at least emotionally, at about that age, which began a lifelong period of painfully ambivalent feelings toward the two people who should have loved him most and taken care of him. I had trouble with the first part of this book, when Doty tried to tie in his looks at the perspective box and other cultural landmarks. But it all hung together in the end. This is one hell of a good book about a kid who grew up the best he could under very difficult circumstances and made a good life and carved out a distinguished literary career for himself. I may have to try his other memoir, Heaven's Coast, now. - Tim Bazzett, author of Reed City Boy and Pinhead

5-0 out of 5 stars Rising from the ashes
Firebird is another tour de force by Mark Doty.The power in this book comes from two sources - the writing and the story.Mark Doty is first and foremost a poet.He uses language to paint pictures, using metaphors that speak to the imagination and causes the reader to consider the power of language.Metaphors cause us to go deeper into the story and make it our own.Mark Doty is a master of language.He can make even the ugliest realities beautiful and personal.

The story in Firebird is also very powerful.It is a story of longing and discovery.In some ways, Doty centers his story on the line from Petula Clark's classic Downtown -"Maybe you know a little place you can go to / where they never close - Downtown."He searches for that place where he can go and be himself, a whole person not torn apart by insecurity and loneliness.How well so many of us can relate to this!

It is interesting to note that Firebird was written after Heaven's Coast, a memoir about Doty's later life and the death of his partner.Maybe he needed to delve into the meaning of the present before he could unearth the pains of the past.Both books are very much worth reading.They will remain with you long after you finish reading them.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Mysterious, Beautiful Memoir
I read (and met) Mark Doty while I was in college. On the grass at Sarah Lawrence, I memorized his sad, beautiful poetry and read and re-read his book, Heaven's Coast, chronicling his life with his partner dying from AIDS. So, I was very excited when Firebird was chosen by my book club. Again, I found myself amazed and delighted by Mark Doty's use of imagery, but I was also disappointed as the book leapt from experience to experience without explanation. Maybe this is why I never felt "inside" his character, and at the end, was left feeling as though the chapters were more like poems, mysterious pieces of his life that were without resolution. Mark Doty is a man of great accomplishment, a poet of unquestionable talent, but after this book, he's still a mystery to me.

5-0 out of 5 stars Evolution of a poet
It's not always a pretty story, but it's always intellectually and emotionally moving. Mark Doty is one of America's finest writers of poetry and prose. That such a mind should have triumphed over his stressful growing up years is remarkable. His background would have landed many other kids in a foster home. Firebird is a coming-of-age memoir of a pre-gay geeky kid with a deranged and alcoholic mother, a passive/conflicted father, and a sister whose middle name is Trouble.
Firebird is beautifully written, revealing how a person who lives in a world of art, music, and literature rose from the ashes of his youth like the proverbial Phoenix of legend. It could easily have been titled Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, but somebody got to that one first. ... Read more

8. Turtle, Swan and Bethlehem in Broad Daylight: TWO VOLUMES OF POETRY (Other Poetry Volumes)
by Mark Doty
Paperback: 192 Pages (1999-12-16)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$16.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0252068424
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The winner of four major awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award and the T. S. Eliot Prize, Mark Doty has established himself as one of the most courageous and eloquent poets of our time. The University of Illinois Press is proud to present this one-volume edition of Doty's first two collections of poetry, "Turtle, Swan and Bethlehem in Broad Daylight". Long out of print, "Turtle, Swan and Bethlehem in Broad Daylight" brought Doty to critical attention as the first post-Stonewall gay poet to emerge as a major voice in American letters. Stories of paradise, pageant, and fugitive peace course through these pages are lit by Doty's visions of the architecture and artifice of a lush world. Exploring the forms of remembering and inventing, Doty affirms that, from the first loss, we preserve by naming. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Turtle, Swan & Bethlehem in Broad Daylight
Fans experienced in Doty's unique vision of our world will appreciate this early collection combining his first two volumes (now out of print).Certainly lacking the later intensity which would define this celebratedpoet (Atlantis' "Homo Will Not Inherit" and Sweet Machine'sfinest: "Mercy on Broadway"), these poems account for the poet'syouth, a topic later dismissed following the sucess of My Alexandria.Theartist here is very much in development yet still images describing genuineaffection for our decaying world prevail (a theme consistently"Doty").Turtle, Swan's title poem introduces Wally Roberts,though it's hardly a lamenting cry that we'll see later in Heaven's Coast. Beauty exists here.From an ancient Egyptian headdress to a senile oldneighbor, Doy examines his world in scientific detail: a talent which notonly inspires delicate, lyrical poems but also heals a breaking spirit,focusing the voice on anything lustrous.Isn't that why we read Doty?To,if only for an instance, see the world as he does: fashionable andredemptive--"our miracle / our hour"?

3-0 out of 5 stars Not fireworks, but a cozy fire.
If you're a Mark Doty fan, there's no reason not to have this book - its contents reveal the younger poet working his way toward the greater expanse of his more mature poetry. It lends a neatperspective to Doty's laterwork. Is by no means his best, but hey. Neat anyway. ... Read more

9. Dog Years CD: A Memoir
by Mark Doty
Audio CD: Pages (2007-03-01)
list price: US$39.95 -- used & new: US$2.57
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Asin: 006123401X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Why do dogs speak so profoundly to our inner lives? When Mark Doty decides to adopt a dog as a companion for his dying partner, he finds himself bringing home Beau, a large golden retriever, malnourished and in need of loving care. Beau joins Arden, the black retriever, to complete their family. As Beau bounds back into life, the two dogs become Mark Doty's intimate companions, his solace, and eventually the very life force that keeps him from abandoning all hope during the darkest days. Their tenacity, loyalty, and love inspire him when all else fails.

Dog Years is a remarkable book: a moving and intimate memoir interwoven with profound reflections on our feelings for animals and the lessons they teach us about life, love, and loss. Mark Doty writes about the heart-wrenching vulnerability of dogs, the positive energy and joy they bring, and the gift they bear us of unconditional love. A book unlike any other, Mark Doty's surprising meditation is radiantly unsentimental yet profoundly affecting. Beautifully written, Dog Years is a classic in the making.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Dog Years
This book really hit home with both me and my husband.Our 11 year old yellow passed away just about a month ago. I had read the book a few months ago but my husband heard it on the Audio CDs a week after our Thumper's death.It was ironic that the author was his first advisor at Goddard College in the 80's and was a great help to him then and now.For any dog owned person it is a must read.
Rosemary Lassiter ... Read more

10. School of the Arts: Poems
by Mark Doty
Paperback: 128 Pages (2006-04-01)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$3.83
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Asin: 0060752467
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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With School of the Arts, Mark Doty's darkly graceful seventh collection, the poet reinvents his own voice at midlife, finding his way through a troubled passage. At once witty and disconsolate -- formally inventive, acutely attentive, insistently alive -- this is a book of fierce vulnerability that explores the ways in which we are educated by the implacable powers of time and desire in a world that constantly renews itself.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Lyrical Master's Best Work Yet
Wow! I really can't understand why Mark Doty's most recent poetry collection hasn't been reviewed here yet, in light of its considerable popularity among the critics. Everyone seems to be hailing this book as a seminal author-finally-finding-his-own-unique-voice sort of work, a more precise definition of Doty's stylistic approach, but it seems to me to be fairly in line with the rest of his output. Still, it never feels tired or stale in the least, and several individual numbers stand out as some of the author's best to date.

School of the Arts begins and ends with two poems titled "Heaven for Helen" and "Heaven for Arden", and these help to form a thematic arc for the book as a whole, together with a few more "Heaven for..." titles interspersed throughout the middle. All of those are highlights, as well as Ultrasound, Flit, In the Same Space, Now You're An Animal, and The Pink Poppy, which may be Doty's finest meditation on beauty yet.

Cozy up with this book sometime when you're feeling pleasantly contemplative, and you will find that, as always, Doty's verse causes everything around you to take on a light of indescribable beauty, singularity, and truth. Highly recommended. ... Read more

11. Atlantis
by Mark Doty
Kindle Edition: 103 Pages (2009-09-26)
list price: US$10.99
Asin: B000W939JS
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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The poignant, accomplished new collection of poetry from the author of My Alexandria--1993 winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, Los Angeles Times Book Award, 1993 National Book Award Finalist.Amazon.com Review
"I was so filled with longing / --is that what sound is for?-- / I seemed to be nowhere at all," Mark Doty rhapsodizes while watching geese fly in"Migratory," another double vision in his award-winning fourth book,Atlantis. Forming a moving elegy to the poet's lover, Wally, theindividual tercets and couplets speak in a cautious but brave rhetoriccombining the best of Frost and Bishop. The book removes its mourningclothes and goes downtown, full of rage, to sit in the steam baths of theedgy "Homo Will Not Inherit," in which the speaker says, "I'll tell youwhat I'll inherit: the margins." Indeed, Doty's speakers are most likely foundin tidal, watery margins that indulge his double vision of land and seainterweaving like body and spirit. Atlantis begins merely as marshland uncovered at low tide:

Now the tide's begun
its clockwork turn, pouring,

in the day's hourglass
toward the other side of the world,

and our dependable marsh reappears
...And our ongoingness,

what there'll be of us? Look,
love, the lost world

rising from the waters again:
our continent, where it always was....

This austerity lapses into sentimentality only once, when Wally pets a dog.Yet even here, Doty delivers an aesthetic message, that the touch "isn'tabout grasping / ...so much will / must be summoned, / such attention brought/ to the work--which is all / he is now, this gesture." It is as thoughWally's death has released Doty from the uneasy assurances of earlierpoems, causing him to rediscover how life exists in metaphor, and at one remove, the language of poetry. "Description is travel," he writes, and like Frost in "Birches," he travels along his metaphors, climbing until they bend and bring him back to a world changed by the experience. Atlantis and his previous book, My Alexandria, arevaluable chronicles of sensibility and intelligence laid bare. --Edward Skoog ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars Much better than I expected
I only started reading Mark Doty because he teaches at my university and I wanted to get a feel for his style before taking a course by him.I read Turtle, Swan, and only one of the poems in that collection left any impression upon me.(The title poem of the book--it touched me very deeply.)I came into Atlantis not expecting more than one poem to impress me.

I was pleasantly surprised.In this collection, he wrote many more poems about his homosexuality (as opposed to boring nature poems), people he knew, and talked more about his love of language.He talked about real things as opposed to the esoteric things poets seem to love.It's poetry that is simple enough for most to understand, yet it doesn't hit you over the head with what it's trying to say.

Mark Doty is always lyrical, and uses wonderful words, but this collection also has some poems about real life.It is well worth the price and time.

1-0 out of 5 stars Repetitive Garbage
Pretentious, overdone, myopic, ca-ca

2-0 out of 5 stars overrated
Mark Doty's poems are seriously overrated. They are overwritten, full of what reads as faked-up emotion, limited in range--both of subject and imagery. Can't think of anything to say? Just pile on more language.

5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect and Delicate
This is the most exquisite book of poetry I have ever read.Doty uses images so vivid and beautiful it will leave you in tears, wishing for more.He is one of the most transcendant poets of the century.

5-0 out of 5 stars The new Romanticism
For contemorary readers who hunger for the melody and cadence, imagery of nature, strong personal emotion, and idealism of poetry in the Romantic tradition, Mark Doty has emerged with a lyrical style reminiscent of Shelly or Keats.The most immediately appealing feature of his work is its sheer lyric loveliness.Loveliness does not stand high these days in the vocabulary of critical praise, but one only need leaf through Doty's Atlantis Poems to be reminded that it does exist and can't easily be called by another name. ... Read more

12. My Alexandria: POEMS (National Poetry Series)
by Mark Doty
Paperback: 112 Pages (1993-01-01)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$5.08
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0252063171
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
This is the first edition of one of the most highly praised and touching collections of poems to appear in recent years. In selecting it for the "National Poetry Series", Philip Levine said: 'The courage of this book is that it looks away from nothing: the miracle is that wherever it looks it finds poetry...Mark Doty is a maker of big, risky, fearless poems in which ordinary human experience becomes music'. Mark Doty, the recipient of a 1994 Whiting Writers' Award, is the author of two previous books of poetry, "Turtle, Swan" and "Bethlehem in Broad Daylight". He is winner of: the T.S. Eliot Prize, 1995; winner of a Whiting Writers' Award, 1994; winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award; finalist, National Book Award, 1993; and, winner of the "L.A. Times" Book Award in Poetry.Amazon.com Review
A versatile, technically astute poet, Doty masterfully tacklesthemes of death, beauty and discovery in this collection. Particularlymoving is "Days of 1981," in which he recalls the memory ofhis first gay lover--a sculptor he met in a bar. "Nothing waspromised, nothing sustained/or lethal offered. I wish I'd kept theheart./Even the emblems of our own embarrassment/become acceptable tous, after a while." Doty derives much of his success by offeringreaders a full gulp of his longish verse, rather than teasing,incomplete sips. My Alexandria won the National BookCritics Circle Award for Poetry for 1993. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant collection
Mark Doty is one of the finest poets writing today.An amazing book you will not regret buying.The poem "With Animals" astounds me every time I read it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Moving and stunning poetry
Mark Doty is a national treasure.

Like many poets, he grapples with loss and death, and the continuous effort to find ecstasy and joy despite the "flooding darkness."

His poetry does not flinch from grappling with death. Read "With animals" - brutal and unflinching look at the death of a dog. I won't spoil the poem for you mentioning more details but will say that I was quite enjoying the poem till suddenly the words conspired to deliver a brutal sock to my guts! Also, "Bill's Story" and "Brilliance".

Another interesting poem is "Days of 1981" about a encounter in a Boston bar with a sculptor: a man "slight and dark as Proust, a sultry flirt, (who) introduced himself because he liked my yellow shirt" but who left...leaving the young poet with a token clay heart agonizing over what could have been. Now looking back, the poet realizes he didn't "understand the ethos, the drama of the search, the studied approach to touch as brief and recklessly enjambed as the magic songs"...

Most beautiful lines of that poem:

"Nothing was promised, nothing sustained

or lethal offered. I wish I'd kept the heart.
Even the emblems of our own embarrassment
become acceptable to us, after a while,

evidence of someone we'd once have wished to erase:"

In "Lament-Heaven", a long poem that I had to read (and re-read) in its entirety to understand and enjoy, he writes:

.. "If death's like that,

if we are continuous,
rippling from nothing in being,
then why can't we let ourselves go

into the world's glimmering story?
Who can become lost in a narrative,
if all he can think of is the end?"

and later..

"... Though death's

his single subject,
he insists there is none
or rather that what awaits us is "home,"

something he'll say little about.
What does he mean --
the cloudy parlors of heaven

or the insubstantial stuff of earth:"
Even when not dealing with themes of loss or death, Doty excels: from the interesting imagery in what could be said to be a pedestrian occurrence of a building demolition ("Demolition") to trying to capture the beauty of the glass flowers in the Harvard museum in words to trying to capture the magic of music (Chet Baker, in particular) in words ("Almost Blue") to a cute little poem about a wood turtle ("No") to Human Figures ("a morning of clouds shifting like ripples on silk").

In "Night Ferry" the poet takes us along a journey which every reader has to take himself with the poem and then go back to the beginning and take it again! I cannot do enough justice to the poem by quoting excerpts but here is one:

"...this moving out
into what is soon before us
and behind: the night going forward,

sentence by sentence, as if on faith,
into whatever takes place.
It's strange how we say things take place,
as if occurrence were a location -

the dark between two shores,
for instance, where for a little while
we're on no solid ground."

Leave you with these lovely lines from "Difference", a poem about the beauty of jellyfish versus those of words & metaphors and similes."

".. What can words do

But link what we know
To what we don't,
And so form a shape?


Nothing but style.
What binds
one shape to another

Alsosets them apart
- but what's lovelier
than the shapeshifting

transperence of like and as:
clear, undulant words?"

P.S. Still not done with the whole book and so have not read Broadway, Chanteuse, Advent Calenders, Esta Noche, Fog, and a few other poems.

Doty's best volume gives us gorgeous poems that are rich in affection for the self and for everything he encounters - perhaps that's why the book is so charismatic. In our Age of Irony, he sides with ecstasy. In a bleak, minimalist climate, he risks delight and beauty. Once in a while he slips into too much detail, but we must forgive him: the gift he gives the reader is so large.

I especially admire the fluent interweave of several different strands in Doty's longer poems. It reminds me that I first encountered it in Rilke's Duino Elegies, and Rilke's influence is unmistakable. To be sure, Doty's angels are drag queens, who represent not just artifice but Art, "the only night we have to stand on."

The city - artifice, illusion, the beautiful transvestites - is Doty's poems muse. He's close and nature and animals, but his love for the city, especially New York, is primary in My Alexandria. New York is for him what Paris was for Baudelaire and Alexandria for Cavafy: the city is poetry itself, "my false, my splendid chanteuse."

While "Chanteuse" isn't as successful as "Esta Noche," if you skip the preliminary details and start in the middle of page 26, with the drag queen, the poem's captivating music begins to unfold, a magic interweave of narrative and meditation:

her smoke burnished, entirely believable voice,
the sequins on her silver bolero
shimmering ice blue. Cavafy ends a poem

of regret and desire -- he had no other theme
than memory's erotics, his ashen atmosphere -

I'm dazzled by this paratactic leap into Cavafy. And what other poet would dare this transfiguration, when Doty describes the city while it's raining:

The rooftops were glowing above us,
enormous, crystalline, a second city
lit from within.

Doty is full of marvelous seductions and surprises. This is the opening of "Lament-Heaven," the last poem that could be stand next to one of Rilke's Duino Elegies.

What hazed around the branches
late in March was white at first,
as if a young tree's ghost

were blazing in the woods,
a fluttering around the limbs
like shredded sleeves. A week later,

green fountaining,
frothing champaigne;
against the dark of evergreen,

that skyrocket shimmer. I think
this is how our deaths would look,
seen from a great distance


I agree that "Bill's Story" alone is worth the price of the book. So is "Brilliance," "No," a fabulous poem about a box turtle, and "Lament Heaven." "Almost Blue," "Esta Noche," "Days of 1981" (the image of the lopsided valentine heart is perfect), "Fog," "The Advent Calendars" come close. But then there are no weak poems in this volume, unless the overlong "Wings" (the Rilkean angel now a little boy with snow shoes flung over his back).

In this age of attention deficit, it takes daring to write long poems. In the face of trendy bleakness and the poetics of ugliness, it's a miracle that we have a poet who believes in "an art / mouthed to the shape of how soft things are, / how good, before they disappear."

Doty doesn't hammer away at the fact that he is gay; it's just part of the picture, and not even the most important part. I think his worship of beauty comes first, and his ability to see beauty everywhere. At the same time he pays homage to the exuberantly daring and creative gay subculture.

Besides being a master of parataxis, Doty is skillful at interweaving the ordinary and the transcendent. He gives us flowers -- or birches coming into leaf, or the crystal roofs of New York during rain - and he gives us a simple, ordinary narrative (sometimes two or three simple narratives in one poem). The down-to-earth narrative makes the poems amazingly easy to read, simple but far from simplistic.

Doty invokes the transcendent, but also gives up the image of the girl violinist pushing her glasses back whenever she pauses. This prosy detail grounds us in the human, the real, the imperfect. Mortality is of course present everywhere; "Fog," in which Doty's partner is diagnosed positive for AIDS, is a masterpiece of rapture and grief. "I don't believe the lamenting / stops at the borders of this world / or any other," Doty writes. And yet all the poems in this magical volume are love poems to the world. Exquisitely attuned to the moment, this is timeless poetry.

5-0 out of 5 stars beautiful
Contrary to what a previous reviewer said, the poems in this book are not cut-up prose. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, what distinguishes Doty's poems is the music; lyricism is taken to such heights here that just the enumeration of tangent details becomes painful. Two poems in this collection (Fog and Bill's Story) almost made me cry, and the last time I felt so touched was when I read Donald Hall's Without, which he wrote for his dead wife. But I'm not saying the poems here are sentimental. They are not. They are unsentimental to the point of almost straining. It's like he's trying to keep his emotions locked in.

I guess what I'm saying is, if you're new to poetry and would like to read easy accessible poems, then maybe Doty is not yet for you. Try Billy Collins. If you've been reading poetry a while and your ear has become sensitive, your mind hankering for something more complex emotionally, then this book is right for you. Five years ago I couldn't read Doty at all; now, after so many years, he's just beautiful.

4-0 out of 5 stars Decay
Doty recently visited my college, and after I read his work, I felt truly honored to have met him.He was a wonderful speaker, and very personable.

This shows through his poetry as well.He is a person speaking on real issues, in a very contemporary manner.Not only is AIDS a question of the homosexual culture and lifestyle, but something for the family, circle of friends, and nation to pause and consider.

Yet, Doty does well in keeping the theme of decay and demolishment in check with painfully potent words that make you pause and think.Though, there is hope, and this is not horribly bleak. ... Read more

13. Dog Years
by Mark Doty
Paperback: Pages (2007)
-- used & new: US$19.92
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0739490001
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14. Open House: Writers Redefine Home-Graywolf Forum Five
by Mark Doty
Paperback: 304 Pages (2003-06-01)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$4.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1555973825
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Product Description
Twenty Writers Define Home In All of Its Complexity and Variety

"Where do I live? I don’t have a ready answer, not really, but I’ve realized there’s something I like about not having an answer. And indeed something of that spirit—a curious, open engagement with the now, in its slippery and uncertain character—animates this book."
—Mark Doty, from his Introduction

In a shifting world, concepts of place and home take many forms. Mark Doty gathers an impressive group of writers to describe their contemporary sense of home. Victoria Redel lives her teenage years from inside a fifteen-pound body cast—loving and hating the loss of her body; Barbara Hurd finds that within a cave, the absence of all light allows for clarity of vision; and Andrea Barrett wipes filth from a sill in her Brooklyn apartment only to realize that the dirt is actually “ash of buildings, ash of planes. Ash of people.” Surroundings—walls, trees, or states of mind—are defined by our reactions to them. These essays are about how the mind can create a home—for a moment, or for a lifetime.

Contributors include Bernard Cooper, Carol Muske-Dukes, Deborah Lott, Elizabeth McCracken, Mary Morris, and Terry Tempest Williams.
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15. Poetry and Commitment
by Adrienne Rich
Paperback: 64 Pages (2007-04-17)
list price: US$6.95 -- used & new: US$0.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393331032
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In the traditional of great literary manifestos, Norton is proud to present this powerful work by Adrienne Rich.With passion, critical questioning, and humor, Adrienne Rich suggests how poetry has actually been lived in the world, past and present. In this essay, which was the basis for her speech upon accepting the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, she ranges among themes including poetry's disparagement as "either immoral or unprofitable," the politics of translation, how poetry enters into extreme situations, different poetries as conversations across place and time. In its openness to many voices, Poetry and Commitment offers a perspective on poetry in an ever more divided and violent world.

"I hope never to idealize poetry—it has suffered enough from that. Poetry is not a healing lotion, an emotional massage, a kind of linguistic aromatherapy. Neither is it a blueprint, nor an instruction manual, nor a billboard." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

3-0 out of 5 stars Recommended For Poets
The respected elder poet exhorts poets of every age not to separate their work from the political struggles of the world. Pick up your pen & change the world!

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16. Dog Years
by Mark Doty
Hardcover: Pages (2007-01-01)
-- used & new: US$13.91
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Asin: B001HVJT9Y
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Dog Years
Mark Doty's book, Dog Years is a woven tale of love and loss.Dottys lover is dying of AIDS and to help fill the up-coming loss of Wally (his partner) 2 dogs Arden & Beau provide the love and support that Doty needs.A truly great love story.

5-0 out of 5 stars With dignity and elegance
Although I was well aware of this author's work, knew the name and the general bio, I had yet to ever actually dip into either the prose or poetry of Mark Doty. Being a dog owner, I decided to begin (and end, depending on what I would find here) with 'Dog Years.' I understood soon enough on opening the book that this will most certainly not be the end of my new literary acquaintance. Doty is a master.

When one sees a book cover of a pretty, snowy street with two dogs on a stroll, the expectation might be for something sentimental, even maudlin. With a back blurb hinting at a story dealing with death, hmm, how easy it would be to sink into that muck. But Doty not only walks over this potential trap, he dances over it.

This memoir that captures an ending of a human life, the beginning of a new life for both humans and dogs, then the ending of dog lives, is exquisite in its light and intelligent, elegant touch. Rather than whining away into a cry of despair over a lover's death, Doty manages beautifully to convey the void, the suffering, even the despair without even once taking a nose-dive. In great part, he does so by keeping his focus on the dogs in his life. We see the human heart via the dog's heart. We see the love of relationship, the unfolding of intimacy, the balm of utter loyalty, the abyss of despair, and all the gradations between, by the interactions between man and dog, dog and man.

Between the chapters that move the story forward, Doty has interspersed short reflections he calls "entr'acte." These are a surfacing of the human voice in wondering, in meditation. For example, in reflection on the concept of time and loneliness, Doty writes in one of these short respites: "Sometimes I think the place where God is not is time; that is the particular character of the mortal adventure, to be bound in time, and thus to arrive, inevitably, at the desolation of limit ... Not trying to look outside of time (if such is even possible to us), but farther into it, pushing our faces up toward vanishing, to that vaporous line between here and not. Power that animates and erases: hello and yes, good-bye and no. To look right into the blank behind the eyes of the skull. To let yourself get used to that wind that blows there."

We've all thought about this countless times. Only Doty could have put it into these words.

So unfolds Doty's story of losing his long-time partner to HIV, the comfort the couple's black retriever, Arden, brings in this passage. A new dog coming into the household, Beau, a golden, is the vehicle for moving forward. The dogs bring comfort, understanding, companionship. They share the weight of sorrow and grief. They offer a silent strength when Doty despairs to the point of gazing too long into the abyss, considering the jump. The dogs also become an added bond between Doty and eventual new partner, writer Paul Lisicky, and in the changing routines of the dogs, we see also the changed routine a new love can bring.

Be sure this is not all sadness and woe. Doty's humor is often evident, but never overpowering. We taste it best in his recounting of the new couple's travels in a car with both dogs, and cats, too, cross-country to their new home in Provincetown, Cape Cod. (Doty marvels at the madness of such a journey, yet the delight it brings in remembering it.) We see the town and its cast of colorful characters more through the eyes (and noses) of the dogs than the owners, but in essence that becomes the point ... men and dogs are so intertwined, their lives so interdependent, that it is all one and the same. Finally, as time will require its pay, we read of the death of one dog, then the next. This, too, has no howl at the moon about it, no whine or self-pity or even dog-pity. All is dignity. All is a meditation. All is the spice of life: relationship.

"A good end, we tell ourselves, a fine end ..." And it is. But most certainly leading to the reading of more of Doty's work.
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17. Seeing Venice: Bellotto's Grand Canal
by Mark Doty
Hardcover: 64 Pages (2002-11-07)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$6.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0892366583
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Bernardo Bellotto's magnificent View of the Grand Canal provides a rich visual record of life in eighteenth-century Venice. This painting--one of the most popular in the Getty Museum--is so sweeping in its scope and so detailed that it requires repeated viewings to take in its portrait of daily life in Venice in the 1780s. This small book presents Bellotto's great painting in a series of beautiful details that allow the reader to examine the painting closely and enjoy the colorful and busy goings-on of Venetian life captured so unforgettably by Bellotto. The book jacket unfolds to become a small poster of the painting in its entirety. Accompanying these delightful images is a lyrical essay by noted American poet Mark Doty. Together, Bellotto's painting and Doty's prose make for an unforgettable encounter with the art and life of Venice. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Delectable morsel!

First, a shameful metaphor: imagine your favorite food in the whole world.Now imagine a single, perfect, delicious bite of that food, mouth-watering in appearance.You gaze at it; finally you consume it--not too quickly---not too slowly.It tastes better than you even imagined.It was a mere bite, but it was enough.

It was amazing!

That is exactly what Mark Doty's Essay Seeing Venice: Bellotto's Grand Canal was for me.
This tiny (15.5 x 14 x 1.5 cm) book puts giant coffee-table style formats to shame, making it perfect for apartment living, tucking into your luggage after seeing the real painting at the Getty Museum, and making a 'statement' in favor of a greener planet.The cover of the book, carefully shrouded in a vellum fog, unfolds to reveal Bellottos' masterpiece in its entirety.The pages of the book focus on details of the painting.

Doty's elegant, lean prose is all about the painting and not about showing off his own magnificent talent with words.He manages to evoke rich sensory appreciation of the smells, textures, people's lives, the uniqueness of Venice in the world.

I'll fight an urge to quote many lines in favor of just one about "Water":

" An odd hardness about it, a flat, impermeable look, Glassy, impenetrable, as if it strove to be part of the world of pavement."

In my utterly pedestrian life, prior to reading this book I had no desire to visit Venice, examine Bellotto's Grand Canal, nor read Doty's poetry.Now, however, I hope to do all three!(Well, if I can't make it to Venice, at least I can go to the Getty Museum).

5-0 out of 5 stars Seeing Venice
Poet and essayist, Mark Doty, has made Bellotto's Grand Canal, the subject for this exquisite little book. The painting of the grand canal in Venice is an absolute masterpiece, giving Doty much cause for reflection. The author has taken the painting and segregated different sections for closer scrutiny. Each page shows a piece of the painting in close up detail. At the beginning of the book, Doty reflects on all the elements in the picture: sky, buildings, people and their clothing, surfaces, shadows and much more. Doty also describes the differences in the city now and at the time of the painting.In his musings, it is easy to tell he is a poet. The words and phrases are lyrical and easily project the image to the reader.

When the dust jacket is removed and opened up, it is the complete rendering of Bellotto's masterpiece. Covering the paper dust jacket is an additional jacket ,opaque in nature, giving the book a watery, almost haunting feel. This book is a delight to hold in the hands, a treasure to savor. Seeing Venice would be a wonderful gift for any art lover or arm chair traveler.Definitely5*****inmy opinion.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Look Into the Masterpiece By Bellotto
This nice little book (about 5 1/2" x 6") contains an essay written by Mark Doty. He has done a nice job of looking closely at this beautiful painting and writing about different things within the picture. The pictures within the book are very nice, and the dust jacket unfolds to become a complete picture of the famous painting. This would be a great coffee/end table book, as well as a nice office or hostess gift. This would also be great for the art enthusiast!

The book is made up of a nice essay that follows the progression of pieces of the painting View of the Grand Canal by Bernardo Bellotto. I enjoyed viewing the pictures as I read the essay.

Content: The essay and included pictures take a closer look at this famous painting.

Format: The book starts with an essay by Mark Doty, then spotlights different parts of the painting in over 40 pictures. The book ends with a page about the artist. Special Note: The dust jacket unfolds to become a picture of the entire painting.

Readability: Very easy to read, with clear pictures that help the reader to focus on different parts of the painting.

Overall: A great book for an art enthusiast. Also great for the coffee table or office end-table.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful art book that will make you want to visit Venice
One of the most popular paintings in the Getty Museum is View of the Grand Canal by Bernardo Belloto.It is a huge painting (53¼ x 91¼ inches) and it depicts a typical day in the Venice of 1740.Seeing Venice: Bellotto's Grand Canal is a small book (both in size and length) dedicated to this beautiful painting.It contains an essay by Mark Doty and close-up views of sections of the canvas.Mark Doty is a poet and memoirist and he does a wonderful job of analyzing and describing the painting.He says:
"And so this must be one of the few three-hundred-year-old canvases in the world which one could place exactly in the spot where it was painted and see, in essence the same space."

Since there isn't a picture of the whole painting in the book, the dust jacket folds out to reveal the entire thing.Reading the essay and seeing the painting makes me want to go to Venice so I would recommend this charming book to lovers of art and Italy.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Painter With Words!
Everything that Mark Doty touches turns to something beautiful, whether he is writing poetry or writing about art as SEEING VENICE illustrates. This tiny book would make a wonderful gift to lovers of Venice, art, poetry, Mark Doty or all of the above. In a brief essay, Mr. Doty illuminates Bernardo Bellotto's (1722-1780) Venetian painting "Grand Canal" completed when the artist was all of 19.

What I find so wonderful about this little treasure is that Mr. Doty writes straightforward, unpretentious prose about a beautiful painting; and, as always, he convinces me that he is accurate in what he says. He apparently does what a lot of us do not-- he simply looks closely at a work of art and makes sensible observations. For example, in this painting he is not sure whether the season is spring or autumn since the artist doesn't indicate a time. "Spring, fall? No way to distinguish, not in this landscape. Do the clouds promise whether to come, or speak of turbulence passed? These boatmen, of course, would know precisely how to read them."

Not content just to explicate, Mr. Doty compares the isolation of the figures here with the works of Edward Hopper. He also contrasts Venice with modern New York City and quotes both the writers Henry James and John Ruskin. James on Venice: "Of all the cities in the world it is the easiest to visit without going there." Mr. Doty concludes that the painting is about time and makes a good argument for this premise.

The book contains 20 or 30 closeup photographs of various details from the painting as well as a large complete picture that folds out for a better view.

Mr. Doty is one of our treasures.I'd love to see him write an entire book on painting. ... Read more

18. Heaven's Coast: A Memoir
by Mark Doty
Paperback: 313 Pages (1997-06-05)
-- used & new: US$64.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0099731614
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Editorial Review

Product Description
"Heaven's Coast" is an anatomy of loss: tender, heartbreaking, consoling and, ultimately, incredibly moving. Beginning with the first onset of AIDS and its lengthening shadow over a blissful relationship, the book follows the shifting patterns between two loves as the illness takes hold - the change in them and the change in the way they perceive the world, through the lens of grief. Doty examines the nature of AIDS as opposed to other illnesses, the responses of society, the frustration of medical care and the exhausting - and occasionally uplifting - burden of caring for the dying at home. ... Read more

19. Tell Me Who I Am: James Agee's Search for Selfhood
by Mark A. Doty
 Hardcover: 144 Pages (1981-06)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$20.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0807107581
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20. Bethlehem in Broad Daylight
by Mark Doty
Paperback: Pages (1991-02)

Isbn: 0879238372
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