poem index

About this poet

Born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 16, 1943, Philip Lopate received a bachelor's degree at Columbia University and a PhD at Union Graduate School.

His most recent book of poetry, At the End of the Day (Marsh Hawk Press, 2010) brings together the majority of his poems, most of which were written during the early years of his career as a writer. His other books of poetry include The Daily Round (Sun, 1976) and The Eyes Don't Always Want to Stay Open (Sun, 1972).

He is also the author of numerous essay collections, including: Portrait Inside My Head (Free Press, 2013); To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction (Free Press, 2013); Notes on Sontag (Princeton University Press, 2009); Getting Personal: Selected Writings (Basic Books, 2003); and Portrait of My Body (Anchor, 1996), which was a finalist for the PEN Spielvogel-Diamonston Award. He has also written the novels Two Marriages (Other Press, 2008) and The Rug Merchant (Penguin Books, 1987).

Of his work, the poet Marie Ponsot writes, “The pleasures of Lopate’s poems are urban and urbane. He takes notice, he reports, he has a heart. And more: he stirs in us literature’s ungovernable alchemic hope, as his truth-saying transforms his anecdotes, and precipitates poems.”

Among his many awards are grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the New York Public Library, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Before holding the John Cranford Adams Chair at Hofstra University, Lopate taught at Fordham, the University of Houston, and New York University, and Bennington College. He currently lives in New York City, where he is the director of the nonfiction graduate program at Columbia University.




Selected Bibliography

Poetry

At the End of the Day (Marsh Hawk Press, 2010)
The Daily Round (Sun, 1976)
The Eyes Don't Always Want to Stay Open (Sun, 1972)

Prose

Portrait Inside My Head (Free Press, 2013)
To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction (Free Press, 2013)
Notes on Sontag (Princeton University Press, 2009)
Getting Personal: Selected Writings (Basic Books, 2003)
Portrait of My Body (Anchor Books, 1996)

Fiction

Two Marriages (Other Press, 2008)
Confessions of Summer (Doubleday, 1995)
The Rug Merchant (Penguin Books, 1988)
 

We Who Are Your Closest Friends

Phillip Lopate, 1943
we who are
your closest friends
feel the time
has come to tell you
that every Thursday
we have been meeting
as a group
to devise ways
to keep you
in perpetual uncertainty
frustration
discontent and
torture
by neither loving you
as much as you want
nor cutting you adrift

your analyst is
in on it
plus your boyfriend
and your ex-husband
and we have pledged
to disappoint you
as long as you need us

in announcing our
association
we realize we have
placed in your hands
a possible antidote
against uncertainty
indeed against ourselves
but since our Thursday nights
have brought us
to a community of purpose
rare in itself
with you as
the natural center
we feel hopeful you
will continue to make
unreasonable
demands for affection
if not as a consequence
of your
disastrous personality

then for the good of the collective

From At the End of the Day: Selected Poems and an Introductory Essay, copyright © 2009 by Phillip Lopate. Used by permission of Marsh Hawk Press.

Phillip Lopate

Phillip Lopate

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1943, Philip Lopate received a Bachelor's

by this poet

poem
You are not me, and I am never you
except for thirty seconds in a year
when ecstasy of coming,
laughing at the same time
or being cruel to know for certain
what the other's feeling
charge some recognition.

Not often when we talk though.
Undressing to the daily logs
of this petty boss, that compliment,
curling
poem
"BE YOUR OWN MASTER!" says the Vedanta Society sign. 
Why not?…In the park
Some clouds roll over me like Greenland on a map. 
If I wanted to I could imagine I was flying over
The Greenland coast and gazing down at the white fjords. 
Instead I'm lying on the grass, listening to city sounds. 
They come to me in
poem
A friend called up saying he was in a pre-suicidal mood.
I told him to come over.
I'd pay for the taxi.
"Will you go back with me to my apartment if I start to panic?"
I told him I would.
He arrived feeling chipper.
He wanted some wine.
I gave him a little cold sauterne that had been sitting
around in the icebox