Mark Doty

(10 August 1953 / Maryville, Tennessee)

Biography of Mark Doty

Mark Doty poet

He was born in Maryville, Tennessee, earned his Bachelor of Arts from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and received his Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Goddard College in Vermont.

In 1989, his partner Wally Roberts tested positive for HIV, which drastically changed Doty's writing. Roberts's death in 1994 inspired Doty to write Atlantis. Heaven's Coast: A Memoir also deals with this subject. In 1995, he won the £10,000 T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, the first American poet to have done so.

He has written twelve books of poetry and three memoirs. Firebird told the story of his childhood in the American South and in Arizona. Dog Years was a memoir of the lives of two of his dogs who Doty had while dealing with the death of his partner and the devastation of 9-11. Louise Erdrich praised the book as being "about dogs, that is to say, about everything we cannot talk about... the 'unsayable' about our relationships with animals, and about unspeakable times of loss, Dog Years is not a dark book. It is illuminated from within by gorgeous wonder." Dog Years is the winner of the 2008 American Library Association Stonewall Book Awards Israel Fishman Non-Fiction Award. His last book of poetry Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems won the 2008 National Book Award for poetry.

He lives in New York City and Fire Island, New York. He was the John and Rebecca Moores Professor in the graduate program at The University of Houston Creative Writing Program. He has also participated in The Juniper Summer Writing Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst's MFA Program for Poets & Writers and was on the faculty of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference in August 2006. He is the inaugural judge of the White Crane/James White Poetry Prize for Excellence in Gay Men's Poetry.

He now teaches at Rutgers University. His husband since 1995 is the writer Paul Lisicky.

Mark Doty's Works:


1987: Turtle, Swan, Boston: David R. Godine (reissued, University of Illinois Press, 1999)
1991: Bethlehem in Broad Daylight, Boston: David R. Godine (reissued, University of Illinois Press, 1999)
1993: My Alexandria, Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press (chosen for the National Poetry Series by Philip Levine); London: Jonathan Cape, 1995
1995: Atlantis, New York: HarperCollins; London: Jonathan Cape, 1996
1998: Sweet Machine, New York, HarperFlamingo; London: Jonathan Cape, 1998
2001: Source, New York: HarperCollins; London: Jonathan Cape, 2002
2005: School of the Arts, New York: HarperCollins; London: Jonathan Cape, 2005
2008: Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, New York, HarperCollins - winner of the National Book Award
2008: Theories and Apparitions, London: Jonathan Cape


1996: Heaven's Coast (memoir), New York: HarperCollins; London: Jonathan Cape, 1996 (paperback); Stockholm: Kentaur
1999: Firebird: A Memoir, New York: HarperCollins; London: Jonathan Cape, 2000
2001: Still Life with Oysters and Lemon, Boston: Beacon Press
2007: Dog Years, New York: HarperCollins; London: Jonathan Cape, 2007; also published in Brazil, Italy and France
2010: The Art of Description, St. Paul: Graywolf Books

Limited and special editions

1997: Favrile, New York: Dim Gray Bar Press
1998: An Island Sheaf, New York: Dim Gray Bar Press
2000: Murano, Los Angeles; The J. Paul Getty Museum
2003: Seeing Venice: Bellotto’s Grand Canal, The J. Paul Getty Museum
2004: Fire to Fire, Sutton Hoo Press


2003: Open House: Writers Redefine Home, St. Paul: Graywolf Books


1996: My Alexandria, University of Illinois Press


1998: Poetry Heaven, a three-part video series, The Dodge Foundation, New Jersey
1999: Mark Doty: Readings & Conversations, Lannan Literary Videos, Lannan Foundation, Los Angeles
1999: "Fooling with Words", Bill Moyers PBS special, September

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The Ancient World

Today the Masons are auctioning
their discarded pomp: a trunk of turbans,
gemmed and ostrich-plumed, and operetta costumes
labeled inside the collar "Potentate"
and "Vizier." Here their chairs, blazoned
with the Masons' sign, huddled
like convalescents, lean against one another

on the grass. In a casket are rhinestoned poles

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