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Mark Doty

Mark Doty is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry and prose. Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems (Harper, 2008) won the National Book Award, and his earlier collection My Alexandria (Illinois, 1993) won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the T.S. Eliot Prize. His book of essays on poetic craft, The Art of Description: World into Word (Graywolf, 2010) is widely read and taught. His many other honors include a Whiting Writers’ Award, the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.


Form, Eros, and the Unspeakable: Whitman’s Stanzas

Spring 2005 | Essays

Whitman did not number the fifty-two sections in the 1855 version of the great, free-flowing outpouring that is “Song of Myself,” or even separate them by much. But he must soon have realized the reader's need for a helpful scaffolding, since he added stanza numbers in the edition of 1860, and section numbers in 1867. Of these sections, the briefest are two six-line units, utterly different from each other.