Alumni, MFA in Creative Writing Program

Personal Statement

American poet and memoirist Mark Doty (MFAW ‘80) is a Goddard College alumnus and former faculty member.

Doty was born in Maryville, Tennessee, earned his Bachelor of Arts from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and received his Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Goddard College in Vermont in 1980.

In 1989, his partner Wally Roberts tested positive for HIV, which drastically changed Doty’s writing. Roberts’s death in 1994 inspired Doty to write Atlantis. His Heaven’s Coast: A Memoir also deals with this subject and received the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction.

In 1995, he was the first American poet to win the £10,000 T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, for his book My Alexandria. The book was also a finalist for the National Book Award and the winner of the 1993 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Doty also received a 1994 Whiting Writers’ Award.

Mark Doty’s Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2008.  His eight books of poems include School of the Arts, Source, and My Alexandria. He has also published four volumes of nonfiction prose: Still Life with Oysters and Lemon, Heaven’s Coast, Firebird and Dog Years, which was a New York Times bestseller in 2007. The Art of Description, a handbook for writers, appeared in 2011.

Doty’s poems have appeared in many magazines including The Atlantic Monthly, The London Review of Books, Ploughshares, Poetry, and The New Yorker.  Widely anthologized, his poems appear in The Norton Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry and many other collections. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim, Ingram Merrill and Lila Wallace/Readers Digest Foundations, and from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Doty lives in New York City and on the east end of Long Island. He is Professor/Writer in Residence at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.