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Source: Poems Paperback – November 26, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From 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, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From 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 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (November 26, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060935405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060935405
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,633,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Julie Gold on February 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
I don't mean to sound cranky, but I'm tired of hearing the words "beautiful" and "moving" in relationship to the work of Mark Doty. Of course his poems are these things, but they're much, much more. They're rigorous in their thinking; they're relentless in their questions about perception and mortality, and revolutionary in their evocation of a social and metaphysical vision. This is a poetry of ideas. It's a poetry that rolls up its sleeves and takes its reader gently--but FIRMLY--down "into the source of spring."
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Joseph J. Hanssen on October 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Mark Doty in his latest collection of poems, continues to delight and entertain us with his brilliant style of writing that is elegant, compassionate, and unabashedly, and proudly gay. These poems are of a universal language, speaking to all sexual orientations, for they are not all gay themed verses. Doty's poems are always a real pleasure to read for they speak from the heart on subjects that are important and of interest to many of us who share his same ideals, thoughts, and feelings. I have always been a fan of his poems for that reason. As he describes the degradation of Walt Whitman's vision of a democratic America in "Letter to Walt Whitman", or of the joy and entertainment that "Little Kaiser" brings to so many people in "Private Life", I can not help but smile at the joy he sees and experiences in trying to get close to Whitman, and in exploring the inner thoughts of "Little Kaiser". I have to admit I am a little prejudiced toward these two lovely poems, for each has references to companion parrots. I loved the poem, "Letter to Walt Whitman" that Doty wrote after touring Whitman's home in Camden. He was trying to find something there that would make Whitman seem more real and still alive. He did when he discovered Whitman's parrot preserved by the taxidermist's wax, and wrote, "Then one thing made you seem alive: your parrot." And in "Private Life" we learn all about "Little Kaiser" the African Grey parrot, who has been a fixture for many years at the local headshop on Commercial Street in Provincetown. Doty has a way of describing all life beings with the beauty they so rightly deserve.

This sixth book of verse by Mark Doty is one I will be returning to many, many times.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Campbell on November 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
I typically don't raise issue with others' reviews. After all, most have been taught that a poem can have many interpretations. Yet to think of "Private Life" as a compassionate description of a beautiful caged creature is missing the point entirely, I think. In the first stanza, the speaker describes Little Kaiser (a caged parrot in a popular tourist destination) as being "confronted" by the noisy hecklers and insensitive tourists who pass him every day, acknowledging, "He doesn't seem to mind," the operative word there being "seem." Two stanzas later, we learn that his cage carries the warning, "I bite." [Obviously, he does mind.]

Then the speaker passively suggests, "He couldn't be said to be/lonely; all day the world comes to him." How could anyone who gets so much attention be lonely? When the speaker then describes the pedestrians as an "endless procession of faces, only a few of them known," the parrot takes on a much more human quality, and that's where the parrot turns into a metaphorical vehicle to describe the human condition in general, but a gay man's condition quite specifically. This metaphor gathers momentum in the last 5 or 6 stanzas, describing his tail as "stunning red,/a frank indulgence of the private life." [wink, nudge]

When the speaker shifts focus from the subject to the speaker ("What does Kaiser dream?"), (s)he develops a more philosophical posture rather than the one of the passive journalist from the beginning of the poem. First we are asked to imagine what Kaiser's not dreaming ("Probably no original paradise;/this little trooper was born in a shop."), invoking of course the story of the heterosexual, biblical Creation, of which we gay men obviously don't have an equivalent.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By James Hiller VINE VOICE on July 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Mark Doty's, one of America's premiere poets, has done it again with his newest collection of literary gems, "Source".
Doty's poems cover a range of topics, from dead wildlife to working out, all exude a personal flair that enlightens and illuminates our existance while sharing his. His poetry both confounds and inspires; you read and question the meaning, and then, find a diamond mine of a line you cannot let go, and mentally ponder the treasure. Some poets aggreviate by not allowing access into their lives or meaning with their work; Doty opens the door, doesn't shy away from honesty or complex thought, and allows us to wander through his charming maze of words.
As a reader of his work, it's nice to see him returning to old familiar themes, especially those that mention Wally, a heart's love who perished due to AIDS. While we may write and write about those songs that inspire us, perhaps there can be never enough said about some things, and Doty casts a beautiful literary light on those topics with each passing year.
Source is an excellent add to your poetry collection.
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