Source: Poems


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 ...

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
Doty's poems move naturally in one's mind from mere intellection to a shared emotional experience. He can take the most innocuous topics—say, a child's self-portrait—and discover a drawing that "seem[s] to thrill with life." His "Letter to Walt Whitman," which takes us to a "beach side changing shed," addresses the writer's identification with "men held in common by our common skin." There are no fashionable causes, cranky ideologies or aggressive posturing. No voyeuristic soul-searching, no self-righteous self-exposure. There is nothing written here that you can't believe. Everything that is autobiographical in these poems naturally evolves from an attentive sincerity. These are poems for everybody who longs for insight into the sources of life: love, compassion, forgiveness, understanding. This book, from one of our best poets, is full of the healing balm of renewed hope.
—Stephen Whited

Publishers Weekly
Doty's sixth book of verse (the first since his memoir Firebird) continues his exploration of gay male desire and post-AIDS mourning amid vividly rendered scenes from Manhattan, Provincetown, rural Vermont and Latin America. Doty (Atlantis; My Alexandria) begins, this time, in the animal world, considering "just one bunny dead/ of mysterious causes." Soon enough, he returns to eros: "At the Gym" evokes "flesh/ which goads with desire,/ and terrifies with frailty." The well-sketched drag queen in "Lost in the Stars" is the latest of many in Doty's work, straining at "the limits of flesh" in her "black glittery leotard." Later poems fan out through history: one longish work, sure to be anthologized, acknowledges "Uncle" Walt Whitman, "our prophet, who enjoins us to follow... the body's liquid meshes" among "the men of the world in the men's house, nude." After a decade of critical and commercial success, Doty's evocations of gay male lovers and their community have lost none of their emotional force, though they may have begun to repeat motifs. His travel poems, on the other hand, can simply rework Elizabeth Bishop, to whom Doty tips his hat in a poem about one of her watercolors. Many readers will keep loving Doty's evocative style, which, as Doty says of his partner Paul's tattoo, is "warmly ironic, lightly shaded, and crowned,/ as if to mean feeling's queen or king of any day." (Dec.) Forecast: Doty won the NBCC Award for My Alexandria in 1993 and is the only American to have won the U.K. Poetry Book Society's T. S. Eliot Prize (in 1995 for the same title), among other accolades. If the subjects and techniques are familiar, they are no less urgent or resonant: expect brisk sales.Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Doty's sixth poetry collection offers the picturesque pleasures of a travel diary in subtly formal verse, except that the subjects of his slide show (Manhattan, Provincetown, Key West) are not normally counted among the planet's more exotic locales. But no matter. Doty is keenly alert to the still lifes and epiphanies that may await around the next street corner: "a long argument/ of lilac shadows and whites/ as blue as noon"; a pet-shop parrot's "coloratura tape-loop/ of whistles"; or a church steeple in the midst of restoration, "scraped to nude intensity." Like Elizabeth Bishop and Marianne Moore, with whom the poet shares a talent for vivid yet concise description, Doty wears his prosody lightly, using carefully calibrated assonance and alliteration rather than direct rhyme to focus his images in the mind's eye ("this little archipelago's/ flush chromatics require/ sea-light on humid acres/ sun-worried to fecundity"). While several meditative pieces one on Whitman, another on his lover's tattoo seem precious or self-indulgent, by and large Doty's technicolor lyrics call us to the physical world, whose indelible blessings constitute a source of unending inner renewal. Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060935405
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/26/2002
  • Series: Harper Perennial
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Doty's books of poetry and nonfiction prose have been honored with numerous distinctions, including the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Martha Albrand Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and, in the United Kingdom, the T. S. Eliot Prize. In 2008, he won the National Book Award for Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems. He is a professor at the University of Houston, and he lives in New York City.

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Read an Excerpt

At the Gym

This salt-stain spot
marks the place where men
lay down their heads,
back to the bench,

and hoist nothing
that need be lifted
but some burden they've chosen
this time: more reps,

more weight, the upward shove
of it leaving, collectively,
this sign of where we've been:
shroud-stain, negative

flashed onto the vinyl
where we push something
unyielding skyward,
gaining some power

at least over flesh,
which goads with desire,
and terrifies with frailty.
Who could say who's

added his heat to the nimbus
of our intent, here where
we make ourselves:
something difficult

lifted, pressed or curled,
Power over beauty,
power over power!
Though there's something more

tender, beneath our vanity,
our will to become objects
of desire: we sweat the mark
of our presence onto the cloth.

Here is some halo
the living made together.

Source. Copyright © by Mark Doty. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

A Little Rabbit Dead in the Grass 1
Fish R Us 5
At the Gym 8
Lost in the Stars 10
Manhattan: Luminism 16
Letter to Walt Whitman 24
Paul's Tattoo 35
Private Life 38
An Island Sheaf 41
Sea Grape Valentine 41
Watermelon Soda 43
Elizabeth Bishop: Croton; watercolor, 9" x 5 3/4", n.d 44
Hesperides Street 45
Catalina Macaw 49
Brian Age 7 51
Essay: The Love of Old Houses 53
To the Engraver of My Skin 56
Principalities of June 58
Summer Landscape 60
Lily and Bronze 64
After the Fourth 66
American Sublime 68
Time on Main 70
Source 73
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