Saturday, February 27, 2010
The Writer's Night Out: Seattle Arts and Lectures Present(ed) Mark Doty
Sundering. Vessel. Decal-ed plexiglass. Mark Doty read last night for Seattle's amazing poetry program coordinated by our own Rebecca Hoogs and it was the best reading of the season. Maybe the best poetry reading of the decade! It is a rare poet that can entertain and educate, charm and come off as completely authentic. I know I can't marry Mark Doty, but maybe I can adopt him as my poetry brother (I always wanted a brother).
Here are some of my notes from last night. From Mark Doty, "I've thought of myself as a - more is more - kind of poet." I love his lushness, his celebration of every part of life from graffiti on makeshift walls to the dismantling of the Berlin Wall -- all in one poem. He is a master of moving us through time and space -- an astronaut of the lyric line.
He seems interested in prose as much as poetry -- he explained he's "attracted to non-fiction for (its) hybridity." The elastic nature of it; he said that in his next book he moves back and forth between his ideas on Walt Whitman and his own life. The connections he makes between his work and Whitman's centered around the concept of the individual and his or her connection to the larger community. Celebration of the self, yes, but also celebration of everything the self is merely one tiny spark of, one chard of glass. My favorite Doty poem is "Mercy on Broadway" because he expands one single moment standing on Broadway into a cosmos of his life and through an easy extension, our own.
Finally, I can't wait for his second forthcoming book The Art of Description from Greywolf this summer. Doty's comments on ekphrasis are amazing -- as his commentary on Rilke's Archaic Torso of Apollo attests. Here are a few quotes from last night:
"A good ekphrasis poem acknowledges its source and moves away from it." "You don't need a poem to show you a work of art...(but) they are a vessel for our own emotional context, it carries our own obsessions."
I am depressed that I didn't sign up for a workshop with him today. He's teaching at Hugo House. Perhaps I should gate crash?