RaveOn the SeawallOf the many poets I love, none has haunted me as Walt Whitman,\' writes Mark Doty early in his moving book What is the Grass . Defying categories, Doty’s book is part appreciation, part criticism, and part memoir, a book in which the boundaries between Doty and his predecessor are sometimes blurred. Having spent a lifetime reading, studying, and teaching Whitman, Doty — the author of more than a dozen works of poetry and prose — reminds us just how revolutionary, how foundational this poet was, how fresh and surprising the poems remain ... Focusing on the cosmic embrace of Whitman, Doty unfolds the poet’s ecstatic vision. And though Whitman’s version of himself is outsized, both cosmic and earthy, reaching into the past and future at once, Doty also asks us \'what poet ever addressed his readers so often and so directly … A digital scan of his work reveals the single word most used … is not the I we might have expected but you.\'
RaveTerrain...though the poems are deeply autobiographical and intimate, the \'I\' is at times elusive, slippery ... Derricotte is a rare poet who unearths shame and looks on it with curiosity and even tenderness ... But she is not simply story-telling, reenacting her suffering—hers is the work of transformation, the kind of transformation that comes from the labor of writing and rewriting, that comes from re-seeing the past and making of it something new ... The poetry is spare except when it’s not, and yet it is always essential ... there is so much trauma in Derricotte’s work that the book could seemingly become mired. But suffering is never the point. All this poet’s work is composed with devotion to the process, to learning, to the search itself, to art and to poetry as life-changing, the poet as archeologist poring over a bone shard. Beneath the intensity of her gaze her work embodies both pain and wonder ... Derricotte’s spirit and her celebration...is forged in language, in poems that show the arc of a life lived in devotion to art, to compassion and understanding, a poet chasing the \'I\'—bringing us a flood of sorrow and wonder, discomfort and joy.