Biography of David Ignatow
Born in Brooklyn on February 7, 1914, and spent most of his life in the New York City area.
Ignatow began his professional career as a businessman. After committing wholly to poetry, Ignatow worked as an editor of American Poetry Review, Analytic, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Chelsea Magazine, and as poetry editor of The Nation. He taught at the New School for Social Research, the University of Kentucky, the University of Kansas, Vassar College, York College of the City University of New York, New York University, and Columbia University. He was president of the Poetry Society of America from 1980 to 1984 and poet-in-residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association in 1987. He died on November 17, 1997, at his home in East Hampton, New York.
Mr. Ignatow's many honors include a Bollingen Prize, two Guggenheim fellowships, the John Steinbeck Award, and a National Institute of Arts and Letters award "for a lifetime of creative effort." He received the Shelley Memorial Award (1966), the Frost Medal (1992), and the William Carlos Williams Award (1997) of the Poetry Society of America.
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David Ignatow Poems
For My Daughter
When I die choose a star and name it after me that you may know I have not abandoned
I stopped to pick up the bagel rolling away in the wind, annoyed with myself for having dropped it
I Close My Eyes
I close my eyes like a good little boy at night in bed, as I was told to do by my mother when she lived,
Against The Evidence
As I reach to close each book lying open on my desk, it leaps up to snap at my fingers. My legs
Whatever we do, whether we light strangers’ cigarettes—it may turn out to be a detective wanting to know who is free
I am looking for a past I can rely on in order to look to death with equanimity.
You wept in your mother's arms and I knew that from then on I was to forget myself.
This tree has two million and seventy-five thousand leaves. Perhaps I missed a leaf or two but I do feel triumphant
As I enter the theatre the play is going on. I hear the father say to the son on stage, You’ve taken the motor apart.
She was saying mad things: 'To hell with the world! Love is all you need! Go on and get it! What are you
Self-Employed: For Harvey Shapiro
I stand and listen, head bowed, to my inner complaint. Persons passing by think I am searching for a lost coin.
My Skeleton, My Rival
Interesting that I have to live with my skeleton. It stands, prepared to emerge, and I carry it
At This Moment
I'm very pleased to be a body. Can there be someone without a body? As you hold mine I feel firmly assured that bodies are the right thing and I think all life is a body. I'm happy about trees, grass and water, especially with the sun shining on it. I slip into it, a summer pleasure.
I dream I am lying in the mud on my back and staring up into the sky. Which do I prefer, since I have the power to fly into the blue slate of air? It is summer. I decide quickly that by lying face up I have a view of the sky I could not get by flying in it, while I'd be missing the mud.
Whatever we do, whether we light
strangers’ cigarettes—it may turn out
to be a detective wanting to know who is free
with a light on a lonely street nights—
or whether we turn away and get a knife
planted between our shoulders for our discourtesy;
whatever we do—whether we marry for love
and wake up to find love is a task,
or whether for convenience to find love