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Mark Doty was born in Maryville, Tennessee, on August 10, 1953. He is the author of numerous collections of poetry, most recently Deep Lane (W. W. Norton, 2015); A Swarm, A Flock, A Host: A Compendium of Creatures (Prestel, 2013); Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins, 2008), which received the National Book Award; School of the Arts (HarperCollins, 2005); Source (HarperCollins, 2002); and Sweet Machine (HarperCollins, 1998). Other collections include Atlantis (HarperCollins, 1995), which received the Ambassador Book Award, the Bingham Poetry Prize, and a Lambda Literary Award; My Alexandria (University of Illinois Press, 1993), chosen by Philip Levine for the National Poetry Series, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and Britain’s T. S. Eliot Prize, and a National Book Award finalist; Bethlehem in Broad Daylight (D.R. Godine, 1991); and Turtle, Swan (D.R. Godine, 1987).
In 2010, Graywolf Press published Doty’s collection of essays on poetry titled The Art of Description: World into Word, in which Doty asserts that “poetry concretizes the singular, unrepeatable moment; it hammers out of speech a form for how it feels to be oneself.”
Doty is also a noted memoirist. In 2020, he published What Is the Grass: Walt Whitman in My Life (W. W. Norton), in which he traces his own experiences alongside those of Whitman, in the context of the elder poet’s creation of his best-known work, Leaves of Grass. In 1996, Doty released Heaven’s Coast (HarperCollins), which received the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction. His other memoirs are Dog Years (HarperCollins, 2007); Still Life with Oysters and Lemon: On Objects and Intimacy (Beacon Press, 2000); and Firebird (HarperCollins, 1999). He has also edited The Best American Poetry 2012.
Doty has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Whiting Foundation. He served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2011 to 2016.
Doty has taught at the University of Houston and is currently serving as a distinguished writer at Rutgers University. He lives in New York City.