Friday, May 6, 2016

Notes from the Unbound Book Festival: Mark Doty Discusses Poetry and Memoir

Standing in the center of the chapel on the campus of Stephens College, Mark Doty read a selection of his award-winning poems. After his readings he shared his thoughts on poetry and memoir.
On poetry:

The best poems are purely personal, but they should not leave the reader saying, “So what?”

Reach toward bridges between the writer and reader.

"Create an opportunity for shared experiences in places that are unexpected and unlikely, where beauty and dignity reveal themselves."

Performance can lift one out of oneself.

Cultivate individual sensibilities.

On racial violence, he said that it’s not just the province of poets of color to write about it. “It’s everybody’s job to address it.”

Be part of change.
On memoir:

Writing his memoir was like watching a film of his childhood unfold.
Tap into memory in detail.

Memory and imagination become close together.

How the book felt was most important.

Art is a refuge.
After his first year of grief over the death of his partner, prose opened up more expansive ways to express himself.

“Joy resides in the present, in the now.”
Next week I'll share my notes on what the panel of professionals had to say about the five submissions selected for discussion during the Unbound Book Festival's First Page Rodeo .


  1. Very good thoughts you shared. I am interested in both genres. I have recently started a novel based on memior...finding it very painful and exhausting to revisit the past even in fiction!

    1. Hi Claudia,
      You are brave to tackle a novel based on memoir. Wishing you good luck with your project and hoping you will revisit some happy memories.

  2. Enjoyed reading your "notes". I liked the statement for memoirs about watching his childhood unfold. I feel that way sometimes, when reviewing memories. Glad you shared, thank you!

    1. Hi Karen,
      Thanks for stopping by; it was an interesting session.


Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume V - Interviews with Lonnie Whitaker and Dr. Barri Bumgarner

Here is the second installment of interviews with contributors who have stories in Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume V , from Ozark Writers, I...