Scott Hightower, an American poet, teacher, and reviewer, is the author of five books of poetry. His third, Part of the Bargain, won the 2004 Hayden Carruth Award. He is also the recipient of a Willis Barnstone Translation Prize for a translation from Spanish. Hightower notes that he was "politically radicalized by seeing suffering and struggle in the lives of rural Texas life"—which led to his lifetime political activism. He is an advocate of developed countries stepping away from the Death Penalty. He is also supportive of basic civil liberties such as access to healthcare and education. He is concerned with biases based on gender, race, and sexual orientation. Hightower likes animals and encourages responsible care. He expresses a specific sympathy on behalf of sanctuaries for butterflies, birds, retired elephants, and horses. His first three books, without the lament of victimhood, incorporate his mother's bout with polio, the loss of his brother to AIDS, the loss of his sister to breast cancer. The themes of spirit captured in matter are archetypal and poetically compelling. Hightower's poetry reviews often appear in Fogged Clarity, The Brooklyn Rail, The Journal, Manhattan Review, Coldfront Magazine, and other national journals. He has taught writing at New York University (Gallatin School), Poets House, Fordham University, Drew University, the Gay Men's Health Crisis, and F.I.T.. He lives in New York City with his life-partner Jose Fernandez and sojourns in Spain. Background Hightower was born 1952 in Lampasas Co., Texas. He was the youngest child of a family that lived on a modest working ranch near the hamlet of Lometa, Texas. His father, Berley Hightower, was a cowboy/rancher. The first week of August, 1952, Joyce Blauvelt Hightower gave birth to her third child on a Monday. On Wednesday of the same week, she was diagnosed with polio. Hightower later lived and worked in Austin and traveled throughout India. Later, Hightower traveled to Mexico, Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, and throughout Europe. He studied with Richard Howard and Marie Ponsot. Eventually, he earned his Master of Fine Arts Degree from Columbia University where he won the Academy of American Poets Prize. At Columbia University, Hightower studied with J.D. McClatchy, William Matthews, Daniel Halprin, and Alfred Corn.)
I hope my death is not stolen from me
by a fiery blast of Fahrenheit or Celsius
or another calculatable accuracy.
I will gladly relinquish all the pleasures of daily
bread, the pride and dreams of art—even pulse;
but I hope my death will not be taken from me.
Actually, it is a modest policy;
little there to discuss as to solace
or in the way of privacy.
A valued moment of self-possession? Might it be
something to embrace more than to expulse?
I hope my death will not be pried from me.
My end is not to be just a cause in a public sea
of scientists teaming against a disease,
a private point in a welter of piracy.
After all, won't it fundamentally and rightly
be mine and no one else's? I hope my death is
not taken from me; better, it be
an appointment kept in a private sea.