I’m still thinking about that wonderful Troubadour event on 7 October – a reading by the marvellous Mark Doty. There was a moment when it looked as if he wouldn’t show. Gone 8 and no poet? It turned out he’d been stuck in a tunnel on the Underground.
Doty’s latest book, A Swarm, A Flock, A Host: a compendium of creatures - in collaboration with artist Darren Waterston - is a 21ist Century take on the medieval bestiary. Dallat asked Doty about his pre-occupation with animals – dogs feature large in many of his collections. “Animals are sentient beings that have a consciousness but it’s not the same as mine. It’s the wordlessness of the animals that invites poetry. Poetry is about reaching towards the unsayable.”
The more he writes poetry the more he feels that, “The magic is in the sonics - It’s how a poem sounds that points to depths of meaning or feeling. Poetry is about gesturing in the direction of meaning, not nailing it down.”
For Doty, poetry continues to be “a practice of knowing,” a way of exploring and understanding experience.
When asked about influences, he singled out Frank O’Hara who he sets apart from others in the New York School. “O’Hara can seem all chatty surface, but the poems have infinite depth.” Currently he is reading a lot of Brenda Hillman, the Californian poet, who he admires for her boldness.
Either side of the Q & A he read several new poems from a series called ‘Deep Lane.’ He’s written 14 Deep Lane poems and they will form the spine of a new collection.
He reckoned the Deep Lane collection would probably be out in a year. Can’t wait.