Read Fire to Fire by Mark Doty Online


Mark Doty's Fire to Fire collects the best of Mark Doty's seven books of poetry, along with a generous selection of new work. Doty's subjects—our mortal situation, the evanescent beauty of the world, desire's transformative power, and art's ability to give shape to human lives—echo and develop across twenty years of poems. His signature style encompasses both the plainspokMark Doty's Fire to Fire collects the best of Mark Doty's seven books of poetry, along with a generous selection of new work. Doty's subjects—our mortal situation, the evanescent beauty of the world, desire's transformative power, and art's ability to give shape to human lives—echo and develop across twenty years of poems. His signature style encompasses both the plainspoken and the artfully wrought; here one of contemporary American poetry's most lauded, recognizable voices speaks to the crises and possibilities of our times....

Title : Fire to Fire
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ISBN : 9780060752477
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 336 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Fire to Fire Reviews

  • Peycho Kanev
    2019-04-17 22:32

    Doty’s status as detached observer to his own work was significantly complicated by this volume, Fire to Fire, his most successful yet. Mark Doty is one of the finest poets in America today and knows his way with words, with phrases that illuminate his stances, with defining emotions inaudible to most of us. He led me gently somewhere I can make meaning in a much more personal context. One way he does this, I believe, is by giving the reader emotional distance by using metaphors so deftly and so subtly. The reader finds beauty even in the darkest places.So, this is not university workshop stuff. It comes from the outside world of a variety of cities, towns and life itself. In an interview with poet Mark Wunderlich published in the Cortland Review, Doty was asked why he thought poetry endured as an art form. He answered: “My guess is that somehow poetry is a vessel for the expression of subjectivity unlike any other; a good poem bears the stamp of individual character in a way that seems to usher us into the unmistakably idiosyncratic perceptual style of the writer. I think we’re hungry for singularity, for those aspects of self that aren’t commodifiable, can’t be marketed. In an age marked by homogenization, by the manipulation of desire on a global level…poetry may represent the resolutely specific experience. The dominant art forms of our day—film, video, architecture—are collaborative arts; they require a team of makers. Poems are always made alone, somewhere out on the edge of things, and if they succeed they are saturated with the texture of the uniquely felt life.”

  • Joseph
    2019-04-08 19:41

    I hadn't read the last three Doty books before checking this out (Source, School of the Arts, and new poems). A lot of his poems have similar occasions and moves, but reading his more recent work alongside the very few poems reprinted from his books before My Alexandria, you can see what a sensitive instrument he's made of his syntax and stanza over the years. Treating the same subjects many times has spurred as much depth and invention as repetition. There's also more straying from radiance in the last two volumes, including a great poem about narrative-- he's in a taxi for a two hour ride to the airport in Mexico in extreme heat, and the driver starts telling him the plots of the eight novels he's written. I saw Doty read about ten years ago; his poems always bring back his voice for me.

  • Heather
    2019-03-26 16:32

    I saw Mark Doty read at The Center last month and was reminded how much I like him, and why—his work is so full of observation and exquisite description and shining moments and everyday wonders. This collection of poems, which includes new work and selections from previous books, is just what I want to be reading right now, deeply satisfying from the very beginning, which is a poem about writing a poem and Doty's sensibility of detailed observation, of "filling in the tale" (3). I love that so many of Doty's poems are New York City poems, love that I can picture the intersections and cross-streets (8th Ave and 20th, 7th Ave and 21st), love that he writes about the guy "in the dingy passageway/to the L yesterday singing early Beatles with a radical purity" (19). In "Theory of Beauty (Greenwich Avenue)," Doty writes "that this is the city's particular signature/the range of possibilities within any single set," and he captures that range, and the individuals within it, wonderfully (23-24). Other highlights among his new poems are "Theory of Marriage" and "Theory of Marriage (The Hug)," the sweetness and humor of the first (the story of a trip to a qi gong parlor) and the tenderness of the second (I'm a sucker for dog-stories, though it's more than that, of course). Reading the older poems—most of which I've read before—is also a delight, the bits I remember from first reading in 2004, 2005, 2007, and the bits I remember dimly, or not at all. "With Animals," which I remembered only vaguely, brought tears to my eyes on the F train. Later, I smiled at "Chanteuse" ("What was our city/but wonderful detail?") and "The Advent Calendars" (wintry and wonderful, especially the image of "The world gone/general, unmoored, white") (pp 116, 125), and oh, lots more.

  • Stephanie Edwards
    2019-04-13 19:42

    I have a love hate relationship with this book. As for the new poems, some of them are really beautiful. My favorites were "Pipistrelle," "The Word," "In the Airport Marshes," "Apparition (favorite poem)," "Citizens" and "And Angel of Prague." However, I was not in love with the 11 poems whose titles began with the word "Theory." As to the selected poems from old books-I liked the poems from Atlantis (1995) the best. I also enjoyed many from My Alexandria (1993) and from Sweet Machine (1998). Some of his poems in School of the Arts (2005), particularly The Vault where he grotesquely uses an allusion to my favorite poem, "The Blessing" by James Wright, bothered me a lot.

  • Richard
    2019-04-05 20:43

    Doty has an impressive mastery of a wide range of material: animal poems (MOST DEFINITELY the dog poem), nature poems, nature poems of the city setting, death. Take Emily Dickinson and Mary Oliver with Miles Davis as a donor father, and you now have their bastard child, for while Doty's handling is of the utmost seriousness, there is a love and play of language and rhythm and sound that infuses through it all. I must admit that reading a bunch at a stretch, as I am a Sandy refugee hiding away in the Adirondacks at this time, that Doty's method became a little apparent--presentation of the immediate subject matter, and then sometimes (almost mechanically) I'd anticipate the turn into the metaphor, which sometimes came right on cue, which deflated some of the magic at times, but that is certainly not a lot to gripe about and instead might be a note of envy.

  • CX Dillhunt
    2019-03-25 15:36

    enjoying the new ones, fun to see which poems are selected from previous books which I've read...couldn't stop reading, opening 50 pp of new poems show his skill and continued evolution; enjoyed re-reading earlier poems as well; SWEET MACHINE collection from 10 yrs ago is still a favorite & a favorite poem is 'Heaven for Paul" from the 2005 SCHOOL OF THE ARTS...many other favorites including his dog poems, something I thought I'd never like..Doty's voice is incredible, it vibrates the page

  • Martin
    2019-04-11 17:28

    and beauty resides not withinindividual objects but in the nearlyunimaginable richness of their relation.Doty is quite good at elucidating those tenuous connections between objects and subjects, exploring both the ordinary and transcendent. This being my first read I can't really give more of a review until I know the work better from further readings. But he's certainly a contemporary poet that I want to read again.

  • Teresa
    2019-03-28 20:49

    Mark Doty's incredible ability to describe events, objects, human emotion, tragedy, and most remarkably, beauty is exemplified in this collection. This is by far my favorite book of poetry. If you are not an aficionado of poetry or find yourself intimidated by it - don't pass this one by. You will be enriched by this.

  • Matt
    2019-04-01 20:31

    This was my first experience with Mark Doty's poetry, and he's already become one of my absolute favorite contemporary poets. Something heartbreakingly poignant at the heart of his poems, which are simple, often lyric, but with a magic that can only be called poetry. Just fabulous. Pick up his book, read it. Revel in the images. Revel in the words.

  • Matthew Hittinger
    2019-03-22 16:33

    Some nice new poems. Missing some of my favorites, though, like "Letter to Walt Whitman" and "An Island Sheaf: Key West". Most Selecteds fall short for me--I'd rather the integrity of the original collection.

  • Megan
    2019-04-22 20:26

    I just couldn't get into this collection. Sure, I found a handful of poems I really did enjoy, but the rest seemed "blah" to me.

  • Anna Rae
    2019-03-29 17:41

    i fucking love him. this is a collection of poems. he is such a great observer of human nature. realistic and romantic at the same time.

  • Andrea
    2019-04-13 16:43

    A beautiful book. Not my favorite, ever, but gorgeous all the same. And there is something that feels so good to read 318 pages of poetry, all by the same poet. I love the regular collections, the 70 pages of the average poetry collection, the unity of the idea, the power of the knockout punch, but to live within a poet's world for several days, to read poems from seven different collections, and new poems, from a spread of twenty years, is an experience unto itself. I've been intimidated by poetry compilations in the past, of reading them all at once. I've had Seamus Heaney's OPEN GROUND for years, and have dipped in and out of it, but have never read all thirty years of poetry from beginning to end. Now I think I will. Doty's FIRE TO FIRE was such an intimate portrait of a man and his lover and his dogs and his grief and the devastation that was AIDs in the 80s and 90s, and above all, the chronicle of Doty's own seeking and growth as a man. This is a book that I will visit again and again. I like to quote from favorite poems in my poetry reviews, but from this book, that is so hard to do, for two reasons. One, because there are so many wonderful poems, it is hard to choose just one. Two, because so many of the wonderful poems are so long, running two, three, four pages, which I love, but is a lot to post here. And finally, because so many of the poems work best in the over-arching context of the book, and the ways that these poems talk to each other, both within their own collections, but also in how they dialogue over the years. There is no way to recreate that in this review. Indeed, as Doty wrote in his poem, "Theory of Beauty (Greenwich Village),". . . beauty resides not within/individual objects but in the nearly/unimaginable richness of their relation," (p. 24) and this could work as the Ars Poetica for this collection, because the richness of these poems is their relation to each other, and their relation to Doty, and their relation to the world and the various subjects of his poetry.However, as impossible as it is to recreate the way that the parts of this book create a sum far greater than its parts, here is a taste based on a few poems that I couldn't help but scrawl in my journal:From the long poem, "Lament-Heaven," (p. 126) . . . . . . . I think this is how our death would look, seen from a great distance, if we could stand that far from ourselves: the way birch leaves signal and flash, candlinginto green then winking out ...... . . . If deaths like that,if we are continuous, rippling from nothing into being, then why can't we let ourselves gointo the world; glimmering strong? Who can become lost in a narrative if all he can think of is the end?And then, from the long poem "Atlantis" (p. 148). . .Where isn't the question,though we think it is;we don't even know where the living are,in this raddled and unraveling "here."What is the body? Rain on a window,a clear movement over whose gaze?Husk, leaf, little burst of paperand wood to mark the speed of a stream?From "Migratory" (p. 166). . . I wasn't there.I was so filled with longing.- is that what the sounds for? -I seemed nowhere at all.From "Grosse Fugue" (p. 179). . . I have been teaching myself to listen to Beethoven, or trying to -learning to hear the late quartet: how hardit is to apprehend something so largein scale and yet so minutely detached.Like trying to familiarize yourself,exactly, with the side of a mountain: this birch, this rock-pool, this square mosaicyard of resserated leaves, autumanal,a jewel reliquancy. Trying to seeeach element of the mountain and thenthrough them, the whole, since music is onlygiven to us in time, each phrase parcelledout, in time . . . What do you expect, in a world that bloomsand freezes all at once?There is no resolution in the fugue.I could go on and on, but I'll pause there. Because that is the thing about poetry, about reading it, and about the parts that grab us - poetry is life parceled out for us, and we react to the images and words according to where and when we are in the world. Posting the above fragments of poems as I have done here reveals as much about me as it does Mark Doty. It shows the themes and ideas that I am resonating with right now, which will be different than what I resonate with next month, next year, or in twenty years. Reading that last poem causes me to think of two things. I think of my nephew, who is learning to play the trumpet, and has found a certain love and ability for the instrument, so much so that his teacher has invited him to play in the 7th and 8th grade band, and so to help him catch up with their music, she has given him sound files of the songs, so that he can play along with the united whole of the music - so he, and we, can hear the music that continues on while he counts out his resting beats, and then, music springs forth from this child, that while almost twelve, with feet as big as my own, is still so very much a child, and so the sound of music bursting from his lips is a startling thing. So this poem makes me think of that, and then also I hold onto those last three lines, and how they express the truth of my life - my life right now, and my life as it has always been. That life is always blooming and freezing all at once. That during some of my best, brightest moment I've also had heartbreak, tragedy or depression. That in the first week of my first job after college, the beginning of my life as an adult, my father died. That while swimming with sea lions in Mexico I could also be almost drowning in a depression that threatened to pull me under over and over again throughout my life, that the week of defending my MFA thesis, my best friend, soulmate and love of my life, cut herself out of my life, never to return. Life is both frozen and blooming all at once, and all we can do is hold onto it. All of the last of this, I think I shouldn't post. These are things not suitable to a book review, but then again, the thing that poetry also does for me is that it makes me brave. Mark Doty faces his life with openess and brave honesty, and so I can aspire to do the same. And so I'll leave this review exactly as it is. And I'll end with four lines from "Fog Suite" on page 189:2.What I love about languageis what I love about fog:what comes between us and thingsgrants them their shine.Doty's words gives life its shine, and helps me see the beauty in hardship and the grace in love and good times.

  • Sophia Roberts
    2019-04-22 16:32

    I’ve been meaning to read a volume of poetry by Mark Doty, for years. I’ve always found ‘Night Ferry’ rather special and have re-read it many times.I was, initially, disappointed with these poems, which kick off with New Poems, which were not as I’d expected. I suspect that what I find slightly off putting in New Poems was the suspicion that there wasn’t a lot to them. One of my notes reads “vocal ventriloquism.” Later – when I’d read the entire collection – I revised my opinion (I’d come to know the man!). Because, looking at the body of his work as a whole I can see where they’re coming from. Even so, I prefer the later work.The eponymous poem Turtle, Swan was moving, but it wasn’t until I started on the selection from My Alexandria that this volume of poems started to really shift for me. In particular I thought ‘Almost Blue’ quite beautiful. And then ‘Esta Noche’ was the first of many poems that made me marvel at Doty’s narrative ability; he has a real gift for transforming almost any minute of his life into a great poem. Most of these poems are long and feel even longer because of the generous typesetting. And some are too long for my taste. But throughout I was overwhelmed by Doty’s descriptive powers. The metaphors in ‘A Display of Mackerel’ are original and outstanding’; and they are characteristic. When in ‘A Green Crab’s Shell’ he describes how a “gulls gobbled the centre/- size of a demitasse – /open to reveal/a shocking, Giotto blue” it is to expound on his observation that “this little traveling casecomes with such lavish lining!”Imagine breathingsurrounded by the brilliant rinse of summer’s firmament.”It is almost inevitable by this point that Doty goes on to imagine that it wouldn’t be so bad to die “if the smallest chambers of ourselves/similarly,/revealed some sky.” A number of the poems in this volume are about death and grief, because these are poems written in the midst of Doty’s life. They are intensely autobiographical and at times feel like a well constructed stream of consciousness. The section ‘Michael’s Dream’ in the poem ‘Atlantis’ is profoundly moving:“And I’m holding Wally, who’s going.Where isn’t the question,though we think it is;we don’t even know where the living are,in this raddled and unraveling “here.”His response typically levels. “…we don’t have to know what something is in order to hold it.”But whilst the Aids epidemic is central to this volume, there is more. Much more. There are wry poems; and poems about dogs. There are exquisite and innovative linguistic thoughts on paintings and music. And by the time we reach 2000 there is a new love and new hope. I thoroughly enjoyed these poems.

  • David Anthony Sam
    2019-03-28 15:45

    A courageous and emotionally powerful collection, "Fire to Fire" exhibits Mark Doty's poetical range and aesthetic. He speaks with clarity of language and image, is not afraid to allow the natural world to speak for him, and faces death and life after the deaths of so many close to him with honesty and impossible hope:"All smolder and oxblood, these flowerheads, flames of August: fierce bronze, or murky rose, petals concluded in gold— And as if fire called its double down the paired goldfinches come swerving quick on the branching towers, so the blooms sway with the heft of hungers indistinguishable, now, from the blossoms.""Sometimes we wake not knowing how we came to lie here, or who has crowned us with these temporary, precious stones."He reveals the survivor's wonder and guilt when he survives when so many friends and a lover die in the great AIDS crisis:"And why did a god so invested in permanence choose so fragile a medium, the last material he might expect to last?"Doty is not afraid to come close to the sentimental when talking about Beau and Arden, his dogs, as they age through their briefer lives and die before he was ready. Every poems is crafted for this world. And while Doty acknowledges the great rift created by the 1970s Postmodern experimentation and loss of faith in language, he believes in the power of words well-chosen to carry us through our individual and collective search for meaning: He knows the surprise that comes when the poem reaches beyond what the poet thought he wanted:"The poem wants the impossible; the poem wants a name for the kind nothing at the core of time,"Read this collection. You will be heartbroken at times, but that is our lot. And Doty is a great voice and his gentle but courageous presence is welcome on this journey.

  • Tristan
    2019-03-23 20:39

    This was so good I actually had to wait to calm down before writing this review so it wasn't just an incoherent ramble about the book's awesomeness. Every single poem was beautiful and elegant and meaningful. His assorted "Theory of Beauty" poems really show all the ways a person can find beauty in the world. My favorite pieces were "Theory of Narrative" which is exactly what is sounds like, "Atlantis," which is a poignant, beautiful poem that tells of his experience while his partner, Wally Roberts, was dying of AIDS, and "Grosse Fuge," which perfectly weaves the tale of the illness of his friend Bobby with the motif of Beethoven's music. All of his poems are layered, with many of the subjects, such as in "A Display of Mackerel" and "White Kimono", serving as metaphors for a deeper meaning. A beautiful, powerful collection in all its parts: the new poems were connected and elegant; the selected poems made me want to find and read the collections they are pulled from.

  • William
    2019-03-28 16:42

    A fine collection of well-crafted poems. The opening "Pipistrelle" instantly enchanted me with keen observation. In a natural mode, his poems "Fog" and "Night Ferry" (from My Alexandria) and the poems he speaks of his beloved Beau are also quite haunting. Elsewhere, Doty writes consistently of his experience as a gay man; for a straight man this is something of a gift, an opportunity to live into another's life. Poems from the early 90s burn with the ferocity of the AIDS epidemic, later ones turn more relational. With these latter there is something of a barrier, perhaps too internal, to particular to the poet. At those moments I feel cheated, robbed of the promise of the beauty of his lines.And his lines are consistently beautiful.

  • Jonathan
    2019-03-27 21:30

    Mark Doty is especially good in the new poems, I think, at capturing a sense of particularity within a city or community; he sets the individual within a moving scene (say, a New York City street or a Houston shop) and slows down the action to help us appreciate the variety of daily life.I'm particularly fond of the new (and newer) poetry in this collection. I have to admit that some of the earlier poems, published during the peak years of the AIDS crisis, when Doty watched many friends and lovers die, became a burden to read. Besides making me sad, they are much more abstract, exploring grief in a mode that I find hard to follow at times. I should also warn some of my friends that Doty's poetry can be sexually explicit.

  • Kerfe
    2019-03-28 16:44

    "Jewelry, tides, language:things that shine.What is description, after all,but encoded desire?And if we saythe marsh, if we forgeterms for it, then isn't itcontained in us,a little,the brightness?"I've been reading "Fire to Fire" for some time, and will continue to do so. A poem a day--or a poem for two or three days, or a week: each reading reveals more. I love to say the words out loud, to play with the rhythm and sounds and images in my mind."Any small thing can save you.Because the golden egg gleamedin my basket once, though my childhoodbecame an immense sheet of darkening waterI was Noah, and I was his ark,and there were two of every animal inside me."Full of riches, indeed.

  • Brad
    2019-04-01 19:25

    Fire to Fire is a collection of both new poems by Doty and select favorites from his previous works spanning from his early work to his present. Mark Doty fans will not be disappointed with this volume. Seeing the comparison of themes and content of his various work is a joy. With his poignant, beautiful and flowing use of the written word Doty manages to give us a view into his unique observations of life and the world covering subject matter both benign and poignant.For these reasons, Fire to Fire has further affirmed that Doty continues to be one my favorite poet.

  • DilanAc
    2019-03-29 17:46

    I don't generally like "selected" poems books. I prefer the depth of a single book rather than the breadth of a spattering from many books. That said there were many poems in this book that were breathtaking. I particularly liked the narrative poems about a lover dying or even the ones about dogs. There are also several New York poems, which I love. Almost all of them contain sensual descriptions of a flower or the landscape or a human body."Metro North" is one of my favorite poems from any poet at any time.

  • Deja
    2019-03-29 15:25

    Been reading around in this in the morning, and had forgotten how gorgeous the Atlantis poems are. I read that volume many many years ago, and it felt lovely to return to it and find it still shimmering, which is a Doty word if there ever was one. I look forward to reading around more and running into ones I've never seen.

  • Judith
    2019-04-15 15:27

    Some good, some not so good. The poems just didn't grab me, for the most part. I must say, he is certainly prolific.

  • Matt Layne
    2019-03-28 21:36

    Mark Doty is my favorite poet to discover in 2010!

  • Scott
    2019-04-08 20:21

    Grossefugue is his finest moment. The central event in much of the work is the HIV/AIDs pandemic. It's the central tragedy that informs much of the best work in this volume. I quibble however with the formulaic and recurrent Rilkean rhetorical question in some of the pieces.

  • Brian
    2019-03-22 18:43

    Doty writes with a fine ear and eye for the world around him. At times, in part due to the narrative character of his poetry, at other times due to my lack of focus, I found myself drifting away from the text, or skimming over it, trying to get to the end. Then little phrases, like: "I want to be quiet between little ribbons of speech" or "undulant in some uncapturable curve," would snap me back into attention. And:"...And/ all the while that fluttering spirit/ of a kimono hung in the shop/ like a lunar token, something/ the ghost of a moth might have worn,/ stirring on its hanger whenever/ the door was opened--petal, phantom,/ little milky flame lifting/ like a curtain in the wind..." (from White Kimono).

  • Stuart Cooke
    2019-03-25 17:28

    Doty is like a pop-poet: he strings together crystalline, uncomplicated moments of beauty with a conversational, uncomplicated language. Rarely does he surprise beyond reminding us of things that are irrevocably common-place. There are some wonderful poems sprinkled through this collection, but overall it is too long - the quality of the materials, in other words, isn't good enough to sustain the size of the structure. Too many poems continue long after they should have ended, and too many repeat the same gestures but in different settings. The new poems are pretty forgettable, but it's worth reading some of the older work: 'Charlie Howard's Descent', 'Manhattan: Luminism', 'Atlantis', lots of School of the Arts. These poems are great - in terms of size and in terms of power.

  • Sue
    2019-04-13 21:23

    This is a gorgeous collection & ceertainly deserves the National Book Award prize! I've spent about 4 months slowly savoring the book. It's like reading Doty's biography as he presents poetry about being gay, having a lover, watching his lover & many, many friends die. He also shares his love for all his dogs and the sadness of their old age & eventual deaths(which he wrote beautifully about in his recent biographical book, Dog Years. Toward the end of the collection poems appear about a new partner & a chance at a new life. All in all I loved loved this book! Take your time reading it, it should go thoughtfully.

  • Malcolm
    2019-03-23 17:31

    I've read many of these poems earlier in Mark Doty's prior books but the new poems in this volume were all new to me. Some of them I liked quite a bit, some were challenging reads, some were shocking, and some were not poetic to me. The non-poetic poems read more like prose that were divided into short lines, and I began to wonder if Doty is so accomplished as a writer that his only remaining pursuit is to experiment with form. And who knows, perhaps in some not-too distant future these poems will become the bellwether for a new poetics in the world.

  • Lesley
    2019-04-12 14:34

    I love Mark Doty. This book was a bit long, but it's my fault for looking at it as a book that must be read all at once. You can pick this up and read a poem or a section in one sitting, and get back to it later. Again, like I said of Brenda Hillman, not the type of poems I usually go for, though completely different from her work. Doty is a god at images. His poems are densely packed with intricate and often warring images, yet he makes them work perfectly together. Some poems are a bit long for my taste, but you can't deny the fact that the man is a genius with words.