11/12/2012- 15 minutes
Today, as I finished writing the draft of today’s post for NaBloPoMo, my mind drifted, as it often does.
I went on Facebook, which was my first mistake. I started reading status updates in my newsfeed, and I came upon one from Mark Doty.
Mark Doty is an amazing poet I was first introduced to at the Dodge Poetry Festival in 2008. He was the first queer poet I ever heard, and, with that, came a special place in my heart for him. The first poem of his I ever heard, “Tiara,” has stuck with me for years. I even used it in a lesson on elegy poetry a few weeks ago with my Creative Writing students.
Mark Doty reading “Tiara” as part of Taylor Mali’s Page Meets Stage poetry series
Anywho, as I read his Facebook status, I learned that Mark had fallen over the weekend when he went to his former house on Fire Island to retrieve some items in the post-Sandy world. His eloquent words struck a cord with me, and I found myself aching for Mark as he ached in his post. Not only did his body ache from his fall, but he also ached as he realized that his last marriage was finished. He said, “Then Alex says something like, “The house bit you,” and I begin to cry in a different way, from another place within my body, because he has tapped into the metaphoric current that has already begun with me — how this house represents some last hope around my last marriage, how that hope fell into dust, and now the loss, guilt and rage I’ve not wanted to allow their hour have struck me down. I am cursing the house and the old marriage and saying now this is the end, this is really where it ends. All this feels like a release of pain, letting this out in sobs and shudders, but there is always a wave of fresh pain behind the last one.”
I felt myself aching for Mark as I remembered the events that led to him being my Facebook friend in the first place. As I mentioned earlier, I first discovered Mark at the Dodge Poetry Festival in 2008. Like any good 18 year old baby dyke groupie, I immediately requested his friendship on Facebook. He accepted, and I discovered that Mark was to be teaching at my University the following year. I applied for his class, and I was promptly rejected. I felt a bit of bitterness, and then I became ingrained in the SLM Cult. (I took poetry courses with the same poetry professor, SLM, 7 times during my undergrad.) That professor honestly impacted my life and helped me believe in myself as a poet and a person. I never looked back at Mark Doty’s rejected course, and I couldn’t help but smile when Mark “liked” a few photos of SLM at a student-lead reading on my Facebook page.
During summer break, following my freshman year of college, I rose to the challenge and designed a cult symbol for the SLM Cult. Please, hold your applause.
Mark Doty may or may not know who I am. In fact, he may only remember me as a Facebook friend (fan) or a student SLM talked about during office hours. (For one particular assignment my senior year, we were asked to bring in a poem that influenced us somehow and write a poem reflective of that. I brought in “Tiara” and said that I had done so because I was feeling particularly gay that week, and Mark Doty was as gay as they got. I don’t actually remember what the poem was that I wrote, but I know that SLM told the class she was going to share my reasoning with Mark.) I do, however, know that Mark encompasses so many of the feelings I have felt over the years, and that he gives me hope for my future. I can only dream that one day I’ll be able to leave an impact in someone’s poetry world like Mark has left in mine.
If nothing else, when I become a celesbian, I’ll always be able to tell people that Mark Doty once rejected me.
Feel better, Mark. Thank you for sharing your life with your readers.