He was born in Maryville, Tennessee, earned his Bachelor of Arts from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and received his Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Goddard College in Vermont.
In 1989, his partner Wally Roberts tested positive for HIV, which drastically changed Doty's writing. Roberts's death in 1994 inspired Doty to write Atlantis. Heaven's Coast: A Memoir also deals with this subject. In 1995, he won the £10,000 T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, the first American poet to have done so.
He has written twelve books of poetry and three memoirs. Firebird told the story of his childhood in the American South and in Arizona. Dog Years was a memoir of the ... more »
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Mark Doty Poems
You weren't well or really ill yet either; just a little tired, your handsomeness tinged by grief or anticipation, which brought to your face a thoughtful, deepening grace.
A Display Of Mackerel
They lie in parallel rows, on ice, head to tail, each a foot of luminosity barred with black bands,
The Ancient World
Today the Masons are auctioning their discarded pomp: a trunk of turbans, gemmed and ostrich-plumed, and operetta costumes labeled inside the collar "Potentate"
At the Gym
This salt-stain spot marks the place where men lay down their heads, back to the bench,
1. FAITH “I’ve been having these awful dreams, each a little different,
Because the road to our house is a back road, meadowlands punctuated by gravel quarry and lumberyard, there are unexpected travelers
A Green Crab's Shell
Not, exactly, green: closer to bronze preserved in kind brine,
Under Grand Central's tattered vault --maybe half a dozen electric stars still lit-- one saxophone blew, and a sheer black scrim
The intact facade's now almost black in the rain; all day they've torn at the back of the building, "the oldest concrete structure in New England," the newspaper said. By afternoon,
My salt marsh -mine, I call it, because these day-hammered fields
Over the terminal, the arms and chest of the god
Long Point Light
Long Pont's apparitional this warm spring morning, the strand a blur of sandy light,
Glassmakers, at century's end, compounded metallic lusters
To Bessie Drennan
Because she could find no one else to paint a picture of the old family place where she and her sisters lived. . .she attended an adult education class in Montpelier. In one evening Bessie Drennan learned everything she would need to accomplish her goals. . . The Vermont Folklife Center Newsletter
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You weren't well or really ill yet either;
just a little tired, your handsomeness
tinged by grief or anticipation, which brought
to your face a thoughtful, deepening grace.
I didn't for a moment doubt you were dead.
I knew that to be true still, even in the dream.
You'd been out--at work maybe?--
having a good day, almost energetic.
We seemed to be moving from some old house
where we'd lived, boxes everywhere, things
in disarray: that was the story of my dream,
but even asleep I was shocked out of the narrative
by your face, the physical fact of ...