Deep Lane: Poems
Mark Doty's poetry has long been celebrated for its risk and candor, an ability to find transcendent beauty even in the mundane and grievous, an unflinching eye that--as Philip Levine says--"looks away from nothing." In the poems of Deep Lane the stakes are higher: there is more to lose than ever before, and there is more for us to gain. "Pure appetite," he writes ironically early in the collection, "I wouldn't know anything about that." And the following poem answers:
Down there the little star-nosed engine of desire
at work all night, secretive: in the morning
a new line running across the wet grass, near the surface,
like a vein. Don't you wish the road of excess
led to the palace of wisdom, wouldn't that be nice?
Deep Lane is a book of descents: into the earth beneath the garden, into the dark substrata of a life. But these poems seek repair, finally, through the possibilities that sustain the speaker aboveground: gardens and animals, the pleasure of seeing, the world tuned by the word. Time and again, an image of immolation and sacrifice is undercut by the fierce fortitude of nature: nature that is not just a solace but a potent antidote and cure. Ranging from agony to rapture, from great depths to hard-won heights, these are poems of grace and nobility.
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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.
This collection will win awards.--Maggie Galehouse
Doty is able to weave philosophical inquiry, personal anecdote, and awe at people and nature into a voice that is simultaneously warm and tinged with a useful measure of doubt.--Craig Morgan Teicher
His best work yet...astute, contemplative and deeply moving.--Elizabeth Lund
Mark Doty writes with absolute exactitude, with one eye on the ideal or absolute and one on the real; the ghost of Walt Whitman on one hand, and a laundromat on 16th Street in New York on the other. There is not a finer, more delicate, more sublime poet writing today in the English language. It's a poet's job to show us what we knew but never saw before; and it's a poet's job to tell us over and over what love is. Doty is this poet.--Gerald Stern
One of the things that has been constant about Mark Doty's work, poetry and prose, is his intense search for the exact word or phrase, of whatever issue, which leads him (and us) into the very furnace of meaning within the human story. It might be the color of the inside of a shell of a mussel found on the beach; it might be the recognition that the heart that feels close to dying might not die, if the will can be fed just a little.--Mary Oliver
Mark Doty's most representative poems are tender, intimate, open, and true. They have their roots in the essential dailiness of this life, with its ritual round of small duties and encounters, and they open out . . . into a world of embracing sympathy, camaraderie, and understanding. With his clarity of vision and great heart, Doty stands among us an emblematic and shining presence.--Stanley Kunitz