Mark Doty answers life's important questions

By Juliet Kelso


How is it that humans exist if everyone disappears?

Questions like this have the capacity to follow an audience beyond the limits of the auditorium. On Tuesday, Jan. 31, Mark Doty’s audience experienced this phenomenon.

Doty, the University’s Poet-in-Residence, read a compilation of his own works, beginning with some of his most recent material for a packed house of students and faculty. His casual vibe reverberated through Bucknell Hall as he began with a light-hearted explanation for his first selection, a vibrant poetic narrative focused on his dog.

Most pieces Doty read seemed effortlessly intricate. He typically began with a deliberately specific subject, but with sure familiarity, and captured the attention of the audience with philosophical or revealing depth.

His language—minimalistic, yet refreshing—was a nice contrast amongst the stuffiness and ambiguity often found in poetry. Nearly every poem contained at least one moment of humor; not the kind that makes you smile to yourself, rather a chorus of laughter that forces the reader to pause for a moment and allow the audience to indulge.

Along with his clever humor, the audience experienced a multifaceted connection to Doty.

Doty’s honesty allowed him to share elements of his path to arriving at a poem. An audience or a reader often does not have the privilege of knowing the poet’s thought process or true inspiration. Doty supplied his listeners with at least a brief background story for each of his selections; relieving, with his lack of far-fetched or grandiose explanations which have become so habitual of the artistic spheres.

The two major sources Doty noted that he draws from are animals and Walt Whitman. His passion for animals is reflected in his poetry, revealing an undeniable union with nature.

If you missed Doty’s reading or attended it and enjoyed yourself, he will be giving a “Conversation With Mark Doty” on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 4 p.m. in the Willard Smith Library in Vaughan Literature Hall.

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