Eric Leven

Mark Doty Wins 2008 National Book Award

Filed By Eric Leven | November 21, 2008 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: award winning, gay writers, Mark Doty

Congratulations to gay writer and poet Mark Doty who took home the
Mark Doty2008 National Book Award last night for his poetry book entitled Fire to Fire.

Doty is well known for his 2007 book Dog Years which is simultaneously both a heart breaking and heart warming story about the relationship between humans and dogs during a time of love, desperation and grief.

Why do dogs speak so profoundly to our inner lives? When Mark Doty decides to adopt a dog as a companion for his dying partner, he finds himself bringing home Beau, a large golden retriever, malnourished and in need of loving care. Beau joins Arden, the black retriever, to complete their family. As Beau bounds back into life, the two dogs become Mark Doty's intimate companions, his solace, and eventually the very life force that keeps him from abandoning all hope during the darkest days. Their tenacity, loyalty, and love inspire him when all else fails.

Dog Years is a remarkable work: a moving and intimate memoir interwoven with profound reflections on our feelings for animals and the lessons they teach us about life, love, and loss. Mark Doty writes about the heart-wrenching vulnerability of dogs, the positive energy and joy they bring, and the gift they bear us of unconditional love. A book unlike any other, Mark Doty's surprising meditation is radiantly unsentimental yet profoundly affecting. Beautifully written, Dog Years is a classic in the making.

I began reading Dog Years on the beaches of Provincetown this past summer and that very same day had the pleasure of shaking Doty's hand. Congratulations.


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Thanks, I've ordered Dog Years from Amazon. I am not really a poetry person. I am still scratching my head over the worlds of W.B. Yeats and Jimmy Merrill), but I can and do relate to memoirs about dogs in despairing times.

So often today, poetry gets stuck on the margins of our culture. So it's a double victory for "Fire on Fire" to win the National Book Award. Not only is the author gay, but poetry is in the spotlight. Double congratulations to Mark Doty.

I will have to read "Fire on Fire". Maybe it will be a new start for me. I have been off by Jungian Robert Bly of the mens movement, Jimmy Merrill The Book of Ephraim" published in Divine Comedies, of conversations held, via the Ouija board, with dead friends and spirits in "another world." Harold Bloom of Yale (Hebrew mythology), and all the rest. I have yet to fall in love with a poet through his words as so many do. To regurgitate Dante over and over again is boring.