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About this poet

On February 12, 1923, Alan Dugan was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in Jamaica, Queens. He began his undergraduate education at Queens College in 1941, but after two years he was drafted into the Army Air Forces. He resumed his studies at Olivet College and received a BA from Mexico City College in 1949. For the next ten years, Dugan held various jobs in advertising, publishing and medical supply in New York City while he began his career as a poet.

Dugan's volumes of poetry include Poems Seven: New and Complete Poetry (Seven Stories Press, 2001), winner of the National Book Award; Poems Six (1989); Poems Five: New and Collected Poems (1983), Poems 4 (1974); Collected Poems (1969); Poems 3 (1967); Poems 2 (1963); and Poems (1961), selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets and winner of the National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize. He has also received the Levinson Award from Poetry magazine, the Prix de Rome from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Dugan was a member of the faculty of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and lived in Truro. He died of pneumonia on September 3, 2003.

Plague of Dead Sharks

Alan Dugan, 1923 - 2003
Who knows whether the sea heals or corrodes? 
The wading, wintered pack-beasts of the feet 
slough off, in spring, the dead rind of the shoes' 
leather detention, the big toe's yellow horn
shines with a natural polish, and the whole 
person seems to profit. The opposite appears 
when dead sharks wash up along the beach 
for no known reason. What is more built 
for winning than the swept-back teeth, 
water-finished fins, and pure bad eyes 
these old, efficient forms of appetite 
are dressed in? Yet it looks as if the sea 
digested what is wished of them with viral ease 
and threw up what was left to stink and dry. 
If this shows how the sea approaches life 
in its propensity to feed as animal entire, 
then sharks are comforts, feet are terrified, 
but they vacation in the mystery and why not? 
Who knows whether the sea heals or corrodes?: 
what the sun burns up of it, the moon puts back.

"Plauge of Dead Sharks" by Alan Dugan, from Poems Seven: New and Complete Poetry (Seven Stories Press, 2001). Used by permission of Seven Stories Press, www.sevenstories.com

"Plauge of Dead Sharks" by Alan Dugan, from Poems Seven: New and Complete Poetry (Seven Stories Press, 2001). Used by permission of Seven Stories Press, www.sevenstories.com

Alan Dugan

Alan Dugan

Born in 1923, poet Alan Dugan's collection Poems Seven: New and Complete Poetry won the National Book Award

by this poet

poem
The trees in time
have something else to do
besides their treeing. What is it. 
I'm a starving to death
man myself, and thirsty, thirsty
by their fountains but I cannot drink 
their mud and sunlight to be whole. 
I do not understand these presences 
that drink for months
in the dirt, eat light, 
and then fast