Atlantis by Mark Doty
I don’t remember when exactly I read this book—it may have been required reading for a poetry class in college; it may have been after college when I still read and wrote poetry on a regular basis. Either way, I will never forget this collection.
The poems were written while the author’s partner was dying of HIV/AIDS. Helplessness is saturated into every word. Doty delves into long descriptions of beautiful textures and colors to distract him from the horror of his life. But there are poems like “Two Ruined Boats” and “Crepe de Chine” highlight the idea that there is beauty in decline, there is hope.
I attribute this book as the cause of my deep appreciation for reading things that are well said. For motivating me to get emotion and tone and detail just right. I attribute this book as the reason I write; for showing me how much power there is in the written word. I attribute this book for putting the fear of God in me about HIV/AIDS. I would have been 22 or 23, freshly out, vulnerable; but Doty’s voice is powerful and ominous: Anything is better than watching your loved one die and not being able to prevent it.