David Bottoms Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Although David Bottoms has primarily made his reputation as a poet, he has published a number of other interesting and important works. As an editor, he collaborated with poet Dave Smith on the influential anthology The Morrow Anthology of Younger American Poets (1985). He also published the novels Any Cold Jordan (1987) and Easter Weekend (1990). Both novels earned generally favorable notices, but his poetry has typically received more attention. In 2001, he collaborated with photographer Diane Kirkland to produce Oglethorpe’s Dream: A Picture of Georgia, a collection of photographs of the Georgia landscape with commentary by Bottoms.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

David Bottoms’s first full collection of poetry, Shooting Rats at the Bibb County Dump, was selected from a field of more than thirteen hundred submissions by famous novelist and poet Robert Penn Warren to receive the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets in 1979. His next two collections of poetry, In a U-Haul North of Damascus and Under the Vulture-Tree, won Georgia Author of the Year Awards from the Council of Authors and Journalists (later the Georgia Writers Association) in 1983 and in 1988, respectively; Bottoms also won the Georgia Author of the Year Award for Vagrant Grace in 1999. His other awards include the Levinson Prize (1985) and the Frederick Bock Prize (2002) from Poetry magazine, an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters (1988), the Ingram Merrill Award (1988), and the James Boatwright III Prize for Poetry (2007). He was granted fellowships by the National Endowment for the Arts (1988) and the Guggenheim Foundation (1999). In 2000, he became the poet laureate for the state of Georgia, and in 2009, he was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Hill, Jane. “’To Own My Father’s Name’: Not Hiding the Masculine in the Poems of David Bottoms.” Studies in the Literary Imagination 35, no. 1 (2002): 25-59. A thorough consideration of the masculine codes, as well as the relationships between father and son, in Bottoms’s poetry.

Hill, Robert W. “Warbling with TV in the Background: David Bottoms in the Suburbs.” Southern Quarterly 37, nos. 3/4 (1999): 80-84. A discussion that points out Bottoms’s departure from southern clichés and stereotypes.

Murray, G. E. “The Collective Unconscious.” Southern Review 37, no. 2 (Spring, 2001): 404-421. A review/analysis of the works of a number of southern poets that demonstrates how certain themes about manhood, fathers, overcoming the past, and racism appear repeatedly. The analysis provides thorough readings of poems from Bottoms’s first and third books.

Russ, Don. “’Up Toward the Light’: Resurrection, Transfiguration, Metamorphosis, and Evolution in David Bottoms’s Armored Hearts.” Southern Quarterly 37, nos. 3/4 (1999): 66-72. Although this article is primarily a consideration of Bottoms’s collection Armored Hearts, its discussion of nature imagery in his work applies to many of his poems, early and late.

Suarez, Ernest. “A Deceptive Simplicity: The Poetry of David Bottoms.” Southern Quarterly 37, nos. 3/4 (1999): 73-79. Suarez provides a useful analysis of Bottoms’s technique, demonstrating his use of figurative detail and distracting narratives.