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Mark Irwin

Mark Irwin was born in Faribault, Minnesota. He received a BA from Case Western Reserve University in 1974, an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1980, and a PhD from Case Western Reserve University in 1982.

He is the author of nine poetry collections, including A Passion According to Green (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2017), American Urn: New & Selected Poems (1987–2013) (Ashland Poetry Press, 2015), and The Halo of Desire (Galileo Press, 1987). He is also the author of the essay collection Monster: Distortion, Abstraction, and Originality in Contemporary American Poetry (Peter Lang, 2017). 

Of his work, W. S. Merwin writes, “Subtlety of ear, of phrasing, of language altogether, and a light-play of feeling, disguise the urgency and evocative range of Mark Irwin’s grave sensibility.”

Irwin lives in Colorado and Los Angeles, where he teaches in the creative writing and literature program at the University of Southern California.


Bibliography

Poetry
A Passion According to Green (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2017)
American Urn: New & Selected Poems (1987­–2013) (Ashland Poetry Press, 2015)
Large White House Speaking (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2013)
Tall If (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2008)
Bright Hunger (BOA Editions, 2004)
White City (BOA Editions, 2000)
Quick, Now, Always (BOA Editions, 1996)
Against the Meanwhile: 3 Elegies (Wesleyan University Press, 1988)
The Halo of Desire (Galileo Press, 1987)

Prose
Monster: Distortion, Abstraction, and Originality in Contemporary American Poetry (Peter Lang, 2017)

By This Poet

5

My Father's Hats


   Sunday mornings I would reach
high into his dark closet while standing
   on a chair and tiptoeing reach
higher, touching, sometimes fumbling
   the soft crowns and imagine
I was in a forest, wind hymning
   through pines, where the musky scent
of rain clinging to damp earth was
   his scent I loved, lingering on
bands, leather, and on the inner silk
   crowns where I would smell his
hair and almost think I was being
   held, or climbing a tree, touching
the yellow fruit, leaves whose scent
   was that of a clove in the godsome
air, as now, thinking of his fabulous
   sleep, I stand on this canyon floor
and watch light slowly close
   on water I'm not sure is there.

Poof!

A shark swims into the bay, swirls, and then rises with the ugly grin of millennia.

A match flame to a cigar, years later a campfire, and long after a house on fire.

Love—to forget language and act on instinct, its indestructible form.

—Something written on a piece of paper after an astonishing event. That paper
found a long time later.

I am, I am, she said, licking a grape Popsicle in July. Make it last, he said right after.

It seemed as though she had leapt toward her own cremation.

A few books shining like the wood of trees. —Ones that I’ve climbed or held.

Voyage

When we could no longer walk or explore, we decided to wear

the maps and would sit talking, pointing to places, sometimes

touching mountains, canyons, deserts on each other’s body,

and that was how we fell in love again, sitting next to

each other in the home that was not our home, writing letters

with crooked words, crooked lines we handed back and forth,

the huge hours and spaces between us growing smaller and smaller.