Friday, April 16, 2010

Brian Age Seven--A Poem by Mark Doty

In the summer of 2001, I had the great honor of being one of fifty educators selected to participate in the first annual Summer Poetry Institute for Teachers at Boston University. The institute, a collaboration between the university’s School of Education and Robert Pinsky’s Favorite Poem Project, was one of the best experiences of my life. We educators spent nearly a week developing poetry lessons and projects, viewing Favorite Poem videos, attending poetry readings, and discussing poetry with each other and with some of America’s greatest poets—Robert Pinsky, Rosanna Warren, Louise Gluck, David Ferry, and Mark Doty. I loved Mark Doty and I loved one of the poems he read to us—Brian Age Seven.

Here’s an excerpt from the poem:

Brian Age Seven
by Mark Doty

Grateful for their tour
of the pharmacy,
the first-grade class
has drawn these pictures,
each self-portrait taped
to the window-glass,
faces wide to the street,
round and available,
with parallel lines for hair.

I like this one best: Brian,
whose attenuated name
fills a quarter of the frame,
stretched beside impossible
legs descending from the ball
of his torso, two long arms
springing from that same
central sphere.

Click here to read the rest of the poem.

Here’s a video of Mark Doty reading the poem:

At Wild Rose Reader, I have an original list poem titled Things to Do If You Are the Moon.

Jules has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Seven Impossible Things.


Jeannine Atkins said...

The Summer Poetry Institute sounds amazing. I can see why it would have been a major lifetime experience. I also like Mary Doty very much. I'm waiting for my husband to turn off NPR and stop washing the dishes so I can listen.

Thank you also for reading Borrowed Names, which I read in the comments on Seven Imps today. I hope you like what I did with the Curie family, as, of course, I share your fascination with them.

Elaine Magliaro said...


One of the best things about the institute was meeting another elementray teacher named Brad Bennett--who is a published poet. Brad and I stay in contact and get together several times a year to talk about poetry, life, religion, teaching, and to share ideas about poetry. I can always count on him to give me honest critiques of my writing.

Mary Lee said...

That sounds like my kind of professional development!

Elaine Magliaro said...

Mary Lee--