The darkly graceful poems in Mark Doty's seventh collection explore the ways in which we are educated by the implacable powers of time and desire. The world constantly renews itself, and the new brings both possibility and erasure. Given the limits of our own bodies, how are we to live within the inevitability of despair? This is the plainest of ...
The darkly graceful poems in Mark Doty's seventh collection explore the ways in which we are educated by the implacable powers of time and desire. The world constantly renews itself, and the new brings both possibility and erasure. Given the limits of our own bodies, how are we to live within the inevitability of despair? This is the plainest of Doty's books, its language stripped and humbled. But whatever depths are sounded in these poems, their humane and open music sustains. Art itself instructs us. Lucian Freud's startling renditions of human skin, Virginia Woolf's ecstatic depiction of consciousness, Caravaggio's only-too-real people elevated to difficult glory -- all turn the light of human intelligence upon the night of time. Formally inventive, warm, at once witty and disconsolate, School of the Arts represents a poet reinventing his own voice at midlife, finding a way through a troubled passage. Acutely attentive, insistently alive, this is a book of fierce vulnerability.
Publishers Weekly, 2005-03-07 Doty's vivid, inviting, descriptive verse, his celebrations of gay men's sexuality, and his heartfelt, skillful elegies, many of them in response to the HIV crisis, were '90s mainstays. Though he begins this consistently moving seventh collection with poems about famous friends (Stanley Kunitz, the novelist Michael Cunningham), Doty soon reveals the book's major subjects: paintings and painters, life in New York City, aging bodies (his own and others') and the last years or months of Arden, his beloved dog. "Paintings of dying things," Doty remarks, show how "Flesh fails and failure/ is visited upon it"; "the principal beauty of New York lies/ in human faces," though the poet also finds it in sunflowers, in a lost tropical bird, in a darkened bar. Doty has also penned two memoirs (Heaven's Coast; Firebird), and many poems stay close to incidents in his own life; contrasts between day and night (or artists' versions of both), between an imagined heaven and an observed earth, also give the volume a clear structure. "You aren't supposed/ to talk about beauty, are you?" "The Pink Poppy" asks, though it is Doty's choice, and sometimes his triumph, that he talks about it anyway. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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