cover image My Alexandria

My Alexandria

Mark Doty / Author, Philip Levine / Foreword by University of

Doty's ( Turtle, Swan ) third volume, selected by Levine for the 1993 National Poetry Series, is built around impermanence: a glass sculpture, a human lover. Opening the collection with a detailed portrait of a building being demolished, Doty moves on to describe the absolute innocence of first love, the lover whom the speaker wishes he could ``call again / to apologize for my naive / persistence, my lack of etiquette.'' Readers are guided through a world of female impersonators, street musicians and homeless poets. There is an all-pervasive sense of doom, from the dying man who gives away all his animals to the dog shot in the head that refuses to take its final breath. Despite their endearing honesty, these poems reveal no kinship with the confessional poetry of Plath, Lowell or Sexton. Doty turns to technical devices as a checkrein: uniform stanzas, rhyme and off-rhyme keeping up a regular beat, form adding to the tension inherent in the subject matter. The shortest piece here is three pages, and most are longer, as if the inevitable outcome could be prolonged by words that take forever to reach their destination. (Apr.)