Think back to an English class. While discussing a book, did you ever wish you could ask the author what he or she meant by a certain phrase or metaphor? Students in Associate Professor Benjamin Grossberg’s classes had that chance when bestselling author and award-winning poet Mark Doty visited campus.
Doty joined Introduction to Creative Writing and Advanced Poetry Workshop, sitting right alongside the students who had recently read his work. He read from some of his poems and answered questions about everything from how he chose certain words to where he found inspiration.
“He was amazing,” says Sarajane Cedrone, a senior who is a double major in English and history. “He was so nice and very open about his work, even though much of it is very personal. He writes a lot about death and AIDS and growing up as a gay person when it was less accepted. He was open about all of it."
Cedrone, who is from Manchester, Conn., wants to be a poet. She says reading Doty’s work gave her some new ideas and started to influence her personal writing style. It also sparked discussion amongst her classmates, which continued when Doty visited class and later read from his new book, Deep Lane, in Wilde Auditorium as part of the Spring 2015 Cardin Reading Series.
The only American poet to have received the T.S. Eliot Prize in the United Kingdom Doty is one of the most important poets writing today. His Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2008. He is the author of eight books of poems and four volumes of nonfiction prose, including The New York Times bestseller, Dog Years. Doty’s poems have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The London Review of Books, Poetry, The New Yorker, and The Norton Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry. His work has been honored by the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Whiting Writers Award, two Lambda Literary Awards, and the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction.