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    .com Review ----------- "I was so filled with longing / --is that what sound is for?-- / I seemed to be nowhere at all," Mark Doty rhapsodizes while watching geese fly in "Migratory," another double vision in his award-winning fourth book, Atlantis. Forming a moving elegy to the poet's lover, Wally, the individual tercets and couplets speak in a cautious but brave rhetoric combining the best of Frost and Bishop. The book removes its mourning clothes and goes downtown, full of rage, to sit in the steam baths of the edgy "Homo Will Not Inherit," in which the speaker says, "I'll tell you what I'll inherit: the margins." Indeed, Doty's speakers are most likely found in tidal, watery margins that indulge his double vision of land and sea interweaving like body and spirit. Atlantis begins merely as marshland uncovered at low tide: Now the tide's begun its clockwork turn, pouring, in the day's hourglass toward the other side of the world, and our dependable marsh reappears ...And our ongoingness, what there'll be of us? Look, love, the lost world rising from the waters again: our continent, where it always was.... This austerity lapses into sentimentality only once, when Wally pets a dog. Yet even here, Doty delivers an aesthetic message, that the touch "isn't about grasping / ...so much will / must be summoned, / such attention brought / to the work--which is all / he is now, this gesture." It is as though Wally's death has released Doty from the uneasy assurances of earlier poems, causing him to rediscover how life exists in metaphor, and at one remove, the language of poetry. "Description is travel," he writes, and like Frost in "Birches," he travels along his metaphors, climbing until they bend and bring him back to a world changed by the experience. Atlantis and his previous book, My Alexandria, are valuable chronicles of sensibility and intelligence laid bare. -- Edward Skoog Read more ( javascript:void(0) ) From Library Journal -------------------- A winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for My Alexandria, Doty offers "eloquent meditations on the essential themes?mortality and life, beauty and loss" (LJ 4/14/93)?in poems haunted by the specter of AIDS. Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. Read more ( javascript:void(0) ) Review ------ "Having by his third book raised the roof of the America Sublime, Doty is now concerned, like Clampitt before him, to frame doors and windows, to "detail" landscapes and outbuildings of loss which, in the ways of the Sublime, properly circumstantiated, are transformed, transcended, redeemed. A lost continent breaks through the surface, glistening still with tears, but exact, vivid, "there.""-- Richard Howard"We have already come to known Mark Doty's books as texts of passion and exactitude. "Atlantis" is this, and more. Tragedy is at its center--the death of Wally Roberts from AIDS, an event that takes place within the mindless continuum of more death--even within this book--from the ongoing AIDS plague. There is a mighty lesson in "Atlantis" and it is this--that we are helpless before fate, except in our demeanor. "Atlantis" is a book filled with the striking and graceful forms of the physical world--for beauty is the school to which Doty goes, with great courage, and certainly without irony, for comfort, sanity, and an understanding of such dark and bright things. Of course he finds no more than Keats found: a riddle. It is enough. Mark Doty has written a book that is ferocious, luminous, and important."-- Mary Oliver Read more ( javascript:void(0) ) From the Back Cover ------------------- In his latest collection, Atlantis, Doty claims the mythical lost island as his own: a fading paradise whose memory he must keep alive at the same time that he is forced to renounce its hold on him. Atlantis recedes, just as the lives of those Doty loves continue to be extinguished by the devastation of AIDS. Set in the harbor village of Provincetown, whose charming, cluttered landscape Doty brings to life, the collection chronicles the illness and death of Doty's beloved partner, as well as many others whose worlds have been both ravaged and broadened by this disease. Doty's struggle is to reconcile with, and even to celebrate, the evanescence of our earthly connections - to those we love, to the shifting physical landscape, even to our strongest feelings - and to understand how we can love more at the very moment that we must consent to let go. Read more ( javascript:void(0) ) About the Author ---------------- Mark Doty's books of poetry and nonfiction prose have been honored with numerous distinctions, including the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Martha Albrand Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and, in the United Kingdom, the T. S. Eliot Prize. In 2008, he won the National Book Award for Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems. He is a professor at the University of Houston, and he lives in New York City. Read more ( javascript:void(0) ) Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. -------------------------------------------------------- Description My salt marsh --mine, I call it, because these day-hammered fields of dazzled horizontals undulate, summers, inside me and out-- how can I say what it is? Sea lavender shivers over the tidewater steel. A million minnows ally with their million shadows (lucky we'll never need to know whose is whose). The bud of storm loosens: watered paint poured dark blue onto the edge of the page. Haloed grasses, gilt shadow-edged body of dune. . . I could go on like this. I love the language of the day's ten thousand aspects, the creases and flecks in the map, these brilliant gouaches. But I'm not so sure it's true, what I was taught, that through the particular's the way to the universal: what I need to tell is swell and curve, shift and blur of boundary, tremble and spilling over, a heady purity distilled from detail. A metaphor, then: in this tourist town, the retail legions purvey the far-flung world's bangles: brilliance of Nepal and Mozambique, any place where cheap labor braids or burnishes or hammers found stuff into jewelry's lush grammar, a whole vocabulary of ornament: copper and lacquer, shells and seeds from backwaters with fragrant names, millefiori milled into African beads, Mexican abalone, camelbone and tin, cinnabar and verdigris, silver, black onyx, coral, gold: one vast conjugation of the verb to shine. And that is the marsh essence-- all the hoarded riches of the world held and rivering, a gleam awakened and doubled by water, flashing off the bowing of the grass. Jewelry, tides, language: things that shine. What is description, after all, but encoded desire? And if we say the marsh, if we forge terms for it, then isn't it contained in us, a little, the brightness? Four Cut Sunflowers, One Upside Down Turbulent stasis on a blue ground. What is any art but static flame? Fire of spun gold, grain. This brilliant flickering's arrested by named (Naples, chrome, cadmium) and nameless yellows, tawny golds. Look at the ochre sprawl--how they sprawl, these odalisques, withering coronas around the seedheads' intricate precision. Even drying, the petals curling into licks of fire, they're haloed in the pure rush of light yellow is. One theory of color, before Newton broke the world through the prism's planes and nailed the primaries to the wheel, posited that everything's made of yellow and blue--coastal colors which engender, in their coupling, every other hue, so that the world's an elaborated dialogue between citron and Prussian blue. They are a whole summer to themselves. They are a nocturne in argent and gold, and they burn with the ferocity of dying (which is to say, the luminosity of what's living hardest). Is it a human soul Read more ( javascript:void(0) )
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    Atlantis: Poems