About the book
In this, his eighth book of poetry, Mark Doty's subjects - our mortal situation, the evanescent beauty of the world, desire's transformative power and poetry's ability to give shape to human lives - echo and develop. The first poem, 'Pipistrelle', is a typically eloquent disquisition on the art of communication prompted by the flight of a bat - 'an inky signature too fast to trace' - and is followed by an extraordinary series of meditations and variations on this theme.
The poet listens to cicadas, to Handel, to the calling of birds, to Juan the loquacious Mexican taxi driver; he steeps himself in the colour and incident of the streets and subways of New York City; he goes for a never-ending chi-gong massage and is visited by the shades of Berryman and Whitman.
As the images accumulate and cohere, guided by Doty's unique style - both plainspoken and sophisticated, both wry and profound - we arrive at a new understanding of the way we live and the world we live in. He shows us what we love and its magnificent fragility - that 'the house of beauty is a house of flames' - and we see, once again, why he is regarded as one of America's most recognisable and most significant poets.