MARK DOTY is an American poet and memoirist born on this date, best known for his work My Alexandria. He was the winner of the National Book Award for Poetry in 2008. He was born in Maryville, Tennessee. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Drake University and received his M.F.A. in creative writing from Goddard College in Vermont
Doty is the author of nine books of poetry, most recently Deep Lane (W.W. Norton, 2015), a book of descents: into the earth beneath the garden, into the dark substrata of a life. He has also written essays on still life painting, objects and intimacy, and a handbook for writers. His volumes of poetry include Sweet Machine (HarperCollins, 1998), Source, (HarperCollins, 2002), School of the Arts (HarperCollins, 2005) and Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins, 2008), which received the National Book Award.
Doty’s three memoirs include Heaven’s Coast, described as “searing” by The New York Times, is the excruciating journaling of his thoughts subsequent to hearing his lover’s diagnosis with AIDS, a work “layered” with awarenesses like Dante’s trip through hell (HarperCollins, 1996), and Firebird: A Memoir, an autobiography from six to sixteen, which tells the story of his childhood in the American South and in Arizona (HarperCollins, 1999). These first two memoirs received the American Library Associations Israel Fishman Non-Fiction Award. His memoir, Dog Years (HarperCollins, 2005), was a New York Times Bestseller and received the Barbara Gittings Literature Award from the American Library Association in 2008. His latest memoir is What is The Grass: Walt Whitman in My Life (W. W. Norton & Company (April 2020).
Doty’s essays include Still Life with Oysters and Lemon (Beacon Press, 2001), a book-length essay about 17th-century Dutch painting and our relationships to objects, and The Art of Description (Graywolf Books, 2010), a collection of four essays in which, “Doty considers the task of saying what you see, and the challenges of rendering experience through language.”
He served as guest editor for “The Best American Poetry 2012 (Scribners, 2012) and was the judge for the 2009 White Crane James White Poetry Prize. Among numerous notable prizes and awards, in 2011, Doty was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
He currently lives with his husband, Alexander Hadel, in New York City and in the hamlet of The Springs in East Hampton, New York. The couple married October 2015 in Muir Woods National Monument.