“A landmark collection of new and published works by one of our finest poets that is a testament to the clarity and thoughtful lyricism of his poems
Fire to Fire collects the best works from seven books of poetry by Mark Doty, acclaimed poet and New York Times bestselling author of two memoirs, Firebird and Dog Years.
Doty’s subjects—our mortal situation, the evanescent beauty of the world, desire’s transformative power, and art’s ability to give shape to human lives—echo and develop across twenty years of poems. His signature style encompasses both the plainspoken and the artfully wrought; here one of contemporary American poetry’s most lauded, recognizable voices speaks to the crises and possibilities of our times.”
Last year I recommended Doty’s Still Life with Oysters and Lemon, a book I continue to think about to this day, but would also add that I enjoyed his most recent release, What Is the Grass: Walt Whitman In My Life, as well.
“Effortlessly blending biography, criticism, and memoir, National Book Award–winning poet and best-selling memoirist Mark Doty explores his personal quest for Walt Whitman.
Mark Doty has always felt haunted by Walt Whitman’s bold, perennially new American voice, and by his equally radical claims about body and soul and what it means to be a self. In What Is the Grass, Doty―a poet, a New Yorker, and an American―keeps company with Whitman and his Leaves of Grass, tracing the resonances between his own experience and the legendary poet’s life and work.
What is it then between us? Whitman asks. In search of an answer, Doty explores spaces―both external and internal―where he finds the poet’s ghost. He meditates on desire, love, and the mysterious wellsprings of the poet’s enduring work: a radical experience of transformation and enlightenment, queer sexuality, and an obsession with death, as well as unabashed love for a great city and for the fresh, rowdy character of American speech. In riveting close readings threaded with personal memoir and illuminated by awe, Doty reveals the power of Whitman’s persistent presence in his life and in the American imagination at large.
How does a voice survive death? What Is the Grass is a conversation across time and space, a study of the astonishment one poet finds in the accomplishment of another, and an attempt to grasp Whitman’s deeply hopeful vision of human possibility.”