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Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  611 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
Mark Doty's Fire to Fire collects the best of his seven books of poetry, along with a generous selection of new work. His signature style encompasses both the plainspoken and the artfully wrought, as one of contemporary American poetry's most lauded, recognizable voices speaks to the crises and possibilities of our time.
ebook, 336 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published March 1st 2008)
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Peycho Kanev
Oct 10, 2012 Peycho Kanev rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Stephanie Edwards
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). So ...more
Jul 10, 2008 Joseph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Sep 12, 2012 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Apr 22, 2009 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books, poetry
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 m ...more
Nov 02, 2012 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Mar 09, 2009 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
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 abo ...more
Jan 21, 2010 Brad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
David Sam
Aug 23, 2015 David Sam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
CX Dillhunt
Apr 22, 2009 CX Dillhunt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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

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 poe ...more
Feb 16, 2012 Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
and beauty resides not within
individual objects but in the nearly
unimaginable 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.
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.
Mar 26, 2012 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 16, 2014 William rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: forensics, poetry
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 tur ...more
Jul 24, 2014 Kerfe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
"Jewelry, tides, language:

things that shine.
What is description, after all,
but encoded desire?

And if we say
the marsh, if we forge
terms for it, then isn't it

contained 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 eg
Matthew Hittinger
Apr 04, 2008 Matthew Hittinger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
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.
Anna Rae
Jun 07, 2009 Anna Rae rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 14, 2009 Judith rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 10, 2010 Matt Layne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mark Doty is my favorite poet to discover in 2010!
Sophia Roberts
Sep 12, 2012 Sophia Roberts rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry-and-drama
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 kno
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 Rob ...more
Stuart Cooke
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 repea ...more
Mar 02, 2010 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, new-york-city
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 love
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 wi ...more
Oct 15, 2013 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 12, 2016 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing collection of Doty's poems. I heard him speak at an event four years ago, but hadn't read any of his poetry. This collection is a good introduction to his work.
Dec 12, 2014 Samantha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mark Doty is one of my favorite poets, and this collection is just one more reason to love him.
Apr 21, 2010 Lesley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
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 fo ...more
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Mark Doty is the author of six books of poems and two memoirs, Heaven's Coast and Firebird. A Guggenheim, Ingram-Merrill, and Whiting Fellow, he has also received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Martha Albrand Prize for Nonfiction. He teaches at the University of Houston, and divides his time between Houston and Provincetown, Massachusetts.
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