There is a familiarity here, in this, Doty's fifth collection of poetry in 11 years. Poems like "Favrile" are reminiscent of earlier poems like "Difference" and "Description" and epitomize Doty's love of words and thoughtful digressions. There is also typical Doty subject matter (fabric, flowers, fog) that links, like a chain of inspiration, book to book. Doty has proved himself capable of lavish vocabulary and technical mastery, but one has a stronger sense in Sweet Machine
of his absorption of life's dark, unredeemable underside. Even beauty, Doty's ceaseless redeemer, seems unable, at times, to grace the darkness here, to offer hope, potential, future: "I am forty-one years old / and ready to get down / on my knees to a kitchen bowl / full of live green . . . ." It is this quality that makes the work more real than any of Doty's previous collections. It is not that he has suddenly relinquished his belief in life's beauty or failed to find transcendence, nor has he seen for the first time the ugly side of life; it is that he has weighed them yin/yang-like in a balance of perception and given them their equal due. He has taken on his losses in a Crane-like "it is bitter, but it is mine" fashion and sees salvation as if for the first time, joy and beauty as rare and precious commodities. Janet St. John
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Having published the first poem and the last, I thoughthaving read the old poems tooI had known what to expect, but the senses are always new, and Doty's loyalty to them, and to the sense they make, continues to astonish, to enlighten, to console." -- Richard Howard
"Mark Doty says, 'What I love about language/is what I love about fog:/what comes between us and things/grants them shine.' What comes between Mark Doty and the things in Sweet Machine is the sheerest translucent membrane of regard, the astonishing gloss of his eye's sweep and pinpointhis luminous language. Nothing escapes his gaze and nothingdeath, devastation, the ghost of a gestureescapes its sheer insistence on beauty, the world 'lustered by the veil.' Mark Doty is a master, re-painting our sad daily canvas, heightening the gold light, the diffusion, the shocked shattered glass and the artificial bath of attitude, letting us see it all arrayed, as he says, under the 'uncompromising vault of heaven.'" -- Carol Muske
"Strange paradise, complete with worms', Mark Doty begins a poem. In four collections of poetry, this masterful poet writes elegies so full of life we find our hope restored. Moving, splendidly observant and unflinching, Mark Doty's poems extend the range of the American lyric poem." -- Citation for the Writer Bynner Prize for Poetry awared by the American Academy of Arts and Letters
These are poems of ardour and playfulness.... an ongoing celebration ... Perhaps he has relaxed too much, even allowing himself to be self-indulgent.... -- The Economist