SignatureReviewed by Reginald ShepherdDoty's first book, Turtle, Swan, appeared in 1987. He has published six books of poetry and four memoirs, all excellent, since. This hefty selection from his seven collections, plus a generous sheaf of new poems, should solidify his position as a star of contemporary American poetry. Doty's poetic career really took off with My Alexandria (1993), his third book, which made his reputation. Fire to Fire contains only two poems from his first two books—Adonis Theatre, about an old movie palace turned gay porno theater, and The Death of Antinous, about the Roman emperor Hadrian's lover's afterlife in statuary, both of which are meditations on representation, absence and desire. Desire, and its capacity to transform and transfigure, is one of Doty's main themes. Enough desire (so often mixed, as T.S. Eliot wrote, with memory) can make us as beautiful as the objects of our desire. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Doty has never eschewed beauty. Indeed, beauty, its unlikely, often unexpected, yet constant recurrence and its elusive fleetingness, is central, as demonstrated by several new poems titled Theory of Beauty, each with a parenthetical specific occasion. Beauty is found everywhere in Doty's poems, in a band playing cast-off chemical drums in Times Square, even in Chet Baker falling from an Amsterdam hotel window: a blur of buds//breathing in the lindens/and you let go and why not.The title poem Fire to Fire, from School of the Arts (2005) is a gorgeous meditation on the way that life's fire infuses the world, in sunflowers, goldfinches, and even a neighbor's puppy: fire longs to meet itself/flaring, longing wants a multiplicity of faces,//branching and branching out. The selections from The Vault (which really needs to be read in its entirety) reveal the poetry in men meeting other men's bodies in a sex club, incorporating references to the Middle English poem Western Wind and to James Wright's A Blessing, and including a subtle revision of Rilke's Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes in which the men are deep in the club's mine of souls, that shaft where inner and outer//grow indissoluble. At times the poems unnecessarily explain what their vivid images and striking phrases makes clear, but the commitment to the particular, and to its possibilities, is unwavering. As Doty writes in Ararat, Any small thing can save you. The poems combine close attention to the fragile, contingent things of the world with the constant, almost unavoidable chance of transcendence, since desire can make anything into a god.Reginald Shepherd's most recent books are Fata Morgana, poems, and the just-published Orpheus in the Bronx, prose on poetry.
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The word that keeps leaping to mind, as you read through this gratifyingly thick collection of poems, is fluent. Doty’s facility with his chosen form—usually unrhymed stanzas of two, three, and four lines each, the meter floating between three beats and four—is so natural that the craft in his work is all but invisible; he makes the damnably difficult look deceptively simple. This impression of ease may also have something to do with the sense that Doty has found some breathing room, in his work and his private life. His death-haunted poems from earlier books about the age of AIDS—“an acronym, a vacant / four-letter cipher / that draws meanings into itself, / reconstitutes the world”—give way here to recent poems about a more hopeful life with new friends, new vistas, new narratives, all rendered in a way that feels at once confessional and universal. Not that death’s irrelevant—ghosts and apparitions, such as spotting John Berryman having lunch in a diner in Chelsea, still make regular appearances—but the poet has made his peace with it. --Kevin Nance --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
A courageous and emotionally powerful collection, "Fire to Fire" exhibits Mark Doty's poetical range and aesthetic. Read morePublished 10 days ago by David Anthony Sam
The emotional quality that greets you first in Doty’s poems is joy, joy in the material, corporeal world. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Glenn J. Shea
Mark Doty is a national treasure - his words, whether poetry or prose, touch your heart.Published 8 months ago by Denise
Read this for my philosophy class. At first I hated it. Once I expressed my frustration to my Professor, he suggested I do a little research on the author and his work — and so I... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Amoonaz80
This was a gift. Cants say much about it because I gave it away. She seemed to like it finePublished 14 months ago by Marilyn goff
I had read one poem by this author and wanted more. This collection contained that poem, "Night Ferry," and many more.Published on January 1, 2013 by Barbara S.
Prompt delivery, great condition and good price. I spent many nights reading and digesting Doty's words. Great poet and have bought other of his books of poetry.Published on August 1, 2012 by geo49e