Click Image to Visit the Pecan Grove Press Web Page for Poetry from Paradise Valley


Poetry From Paradise Valley

Pecan Grove Press has released an anthology of poems, a sampling of works published in Valparaiso Poetry Review during its first decade, from the original 1999-2000 volume to the 2009-2010 volume.

Poetry from Paradise Valley includes a stellar roster of 50 poets. Among the contributors are a former Poet Laureate of the United States, a winner of the Griffin International Prize, two Pulitzer Prize winners, two National Book Award winners, two National Book Critics Circle winners, six finalists for the National Book Award, four finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and a few dozen recipients of other honors, such as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, etc.

Readers are encouraged to visit the Poetry from Paradise Valley page at the publisher's web site, where ordering information about the book can be found.

Best Books of Indiana 2011: Finalist. Judges' Citation: "Poetry from Paradise Valley is an excellent anthology that features world-class poetry, including the work of many artists from the Midwest, such as Jared Carter, Annie Finch, David Baker, and Allison Joseph. It’s an eclectic and always interesting collection where poems on similar themes flow into each other. It showcases the highest caliber of U. S. poetry."
—Indiana Center for the Book, Indiana State Library

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Poet of the Year: Mark Doty

Once more, the close of the year arrives with numerous “best of” lists, such as the New York Times selections of notable books and the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, as well as various recognitions of individuals in all sorts of fields, led by Time magazine, which will choose its “Person of the Year.” And again “One Poet’s Notes” joins in the end-of-year enjoyment to name a “Poet of the Year” for 2008 to be considered alongside others’ designations of “Entertainer of the Year,” “Athlete of the Year,” etc.

Last year “One Poet’s Notes” determined John Ashbery deserved to be “Poet of the Year” for his achievements during 2007. As mentioned then, every year an array of poets merits acknowledgment and appreciation for the substantial contributions each has presented, and as seen in 2008, a number of poets have distinguished themselves during the last twelve months to a degree that they earned serious consideration for this annual honor. However, no poet this year has had a more noteworthy period of accomplishment than Mark Doty, the 2008 Poet of the Year.

Moreover, the widespread recognition received by Doty this year indicates perhaps he has reached a new and even more significant level in his career. Indeed, the Judges’ Citation for the National Book Award in Poetry that Doty was given in November for his most recent collection, Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, specifically observes that with “this generous retrospective volume a gifted young poet has become a master.” This development does not surprise those of us who for two decades, beginning with Turtle, Swan in 1987, have followed closely Doty’s steady advancements as a poet and the author’s repeated deliverance of marvelous works in book after book.

Certainly, Mark Doty’s volumes have been important touchstones to readers of poetry, and they have served as influential examples for many contemporary poets. Appropriately, Doty’s poems in his previously published collections have been cited for their excellence, as the poet attained such prizes as the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the National Poetry Series Prize, and the Whiting Writer’s Award, among others. In addition, the United Kingdom edition of Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, an award for which Mark Doty remains the only American winner. (My Alexandria was chosen for the T.S. Eliot Prize in 1995.)

In addition to the great recognition for his poetry this year, Mark Doty had his book of prose, Dog Years: A Memoir, named as the 2008 recipient of the American Library Association Stonewall Book Awards’ Israel Fishman Non-Fiction Award. This latest volume of his prose also was a New York Times bestseller, drawing an even greater audience to Doty’s works. Heavens Coast, Doty’s first book of memoirs, won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction in 1996.

The Judges’ Citation that accompanied the National Book Award for Fire to Fire described Doty’s poetry: “Elegant, plain-spoken, and unflinching, Mark Doty's poems in Fire to Fire gently invite us to share their ferocious compassion. With their praise for the world and their fierce accusation, their defiance and applause, they combine grief and glory in a music of crazy excelsis.” Elizabeth Lund wrote about Fire to Fire in a Christian Science Monitor review: “Mark Doty holds a magnifying glass to his subjects. He uses language as a way to highlight a moment, elevate it, and unearth hidden depth and meaning. Fire to Fire, his new and selected poems, illustrates how he has done this over the past 20 years.” Writing in the Dallas Morning News, John Freeman commented: “Fire to Fire is packed with poems about flowers; seasons; elegies to beloved, late poets; dogs, who live parallel to us on speeded-up time; and tattoos, which mock (or mark) our impermanence with their inky finality. In the urgency of his urban observations there is a fanatical desire to preserve. Miraculously, these imperatives never overwhelm the art. The rhythm of Mr. Doty’s lines, its syntactical genius, propels us down the page, stopping time when necessary, making the familiar—be it advent calendars or lilies—exotic.”

In Publisher’s Weekly, Reginald Shepherd commented: “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, during an interview conducted by Craig Morgan Teicher, Mark Doty spoke of his poetry in Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems: “In these new poems, I found myself turning over notions that have always been at the fore for romantic poets: the nature of beauty, the nature of the soul, how love exists in time. I’m always thinking about beauty as a subject—that contested, difficult, fascinating ground that’s so important to me.” Suitably, the accompanying video seen above reveals Mark Doty at the Dodge Poetry Festival reading “The House of Beauty.”

When interviewed in 2003 by Jaclyn Friedman for Poets & Writers, Mark Doty remarked upon his role as a poet: “I have to believe that the practice of poetry, and the professing of it (in the sense of both teaching and speaking as a poet in the world) is an act of paying attention to experience, of responsive awareness. And in that sense it does make the world a bit more human. I have seen firsthand poetry’s power to awaken, deepen, provoke compassion.” Similarly, in “Pipistrelle,” a lovely piece from Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, Doty wonders: “Does the poem reside in experience / or in self-consciousness // about experience.” This poem recounts a moment when the speaker hears the high-pitched sound of a bat flying through nightfall’s darkening sky:

But when I said what I’d heard,

no one else had noticed it, and Charles said,
Only some people can hear their frequencies.
Fifty years old and I didn’t know

I could hear the tender cry of a bat
cry won’t do: a diminutive chime
somewhere between merriment and weeping,

who could ever say? I with no music
to my name save what I can coax
into a line, no sense of pitch,

heard the night’s own one-sided conversation.
What to make of the gift?

For two decades readers have listened closely to Mark Doty’s poetic voice, detecting a marvelous elegance in the language, hearing those expressively eloquent words he has created. We have marveled at the gift of his trained ear and the musical lines he has sung to us in his lyrics. We have witnessed his dedication to poetry throughout this time, and in 2008 we have been reminded once more of his ability to produce poems with power that awakens, deepens, and provokes compassion.


Anonymous said...

A well deserved recognition for one of the Nations greatest contemporary voices.



Philip F. Clark said...

Mark Doty's poetry got me through one of the hardest times of my life; since my very first reading of him I have gone to his work and been in the company of deep human connection, extraordinary perception, and wonderful spirit. His poems sustain the proof that one can be changed and can be better for reading and listening to his words.

Kimberlee said...

Very well deserved! I wrote a paper on how his poetry changes the world. Now he just needs to be made US Poet Laureate. :)