Mark Doty Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Mark Doty (DOH-tee) has written three memoirs; Heaven’s Coast: A Memoir (1996) is a moving personal account of the illness and death from acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) of Doty’s partner Wally Roberts; Firebird: A Memoir (1999) concerns Doty’s often difficult early life and his discovery of his calling as a poet; Dog Years (2007) recounts his symbiotic relationship with two canine companions. Still Life with Oysters and Lemon (2001) is an extended essay on how people use art to see and understand the world around them.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Mark Doty has received numerous awards for his work. He won the Theodore Roethke Prize from Poetry Northwest (1986), the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for poetry (1993), and the Whiting Writers’ Award (1994). My Alexandria earned him the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry (1995), making him the first American recipient, and was selected for the National Poetry Series. He won the Bingham Poetry Prize (1996), the Ambassador Book Award (1996), and the Lambda Literary Award (1995) for Atlantis. Doty has also received the Witter Bynner Prize for Poetry (1997) from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, two additional Lambda Literary Awards (2001 and 2008), the Thom Gunn Award (2002), and the National Book Award (2008) for Fire to Fire. He has been honored with fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and Ingram Merrill Foundation and the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award (1999). Heaven’s Coast received the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for a first book of nonfiction.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Baker, David. Heresy and the Ideal: On Contemporary Poetry. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2000. In a chapter on how poets think, Baker argues that Doty is generally a detached observer of life because his need to instruct often undercuts the impulse to feel.

Bing, Jonathan. “Mark Doty: The Idea of Order on Cape Cod.” Publishers Weekly 243 (April 15, 1996): 44-46. Doty discusses his working methods in reference to his prose work as well as to his poems.

Doty, Mark. Interview by Michael Glover. New Statesman 126 (May 30, 1997): 44-45. The interview contains some biographical detail about how Doty came to poetry. The poet also comments on the effect of Roberts’s death on his writing.

_______. “Mark Doty.” Doty’s home page contains a brief biography, a list of his books, information on readings and projects, and links to reviews, interviews, and selected poems and essays.

_______. “Mark Doty.” Interview by Christopher Hennessy. In Outside the Lines: Talking with Contemporary Gay Poets, edited by Hennessy. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005. Doty discusses poetic composition, how he converts personal experience into art.

Glover, Michael. Review of Atlantis. New Statesman 125 (July 26, 1996): 47. Glover calls Doty the best American poet since the death of Robert Lowell and gives some attention to his imagery and diction.

Landau, Deborah. “’How to Live. What to Do.’: The Poetics and Politics of AIDS.” American Literature 68 (March, 1996): 193-226. Discusses the work of four poets as literary responses to the AIDS epidemic; examines Doty’s work in detail.

Logan, William. The Undiscovered Country: Poetry in the Age of Tin. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005. In an essay devoted to Doty’s work, this controversial critic examines the poet’s use of language and his characteristic stylistic devices.

Wonderlich, Mark. “About Mark Doty.” Ploughshares 25 (Spring, 1999): 183-189. The profile contains some biographical information as well as brief discussions of My Alexandria, Atlantis, and Sweet Machine.