Deborah Landau: On "My Alexandria"

The poems of My Alexandria transform homophobic narratives about the disease, offer comfort to those living with HIV, and encourage empathy from those whose lives have not yet been affected by the virus.... Although Doty’s poems are not polemical, they counter reductive representations of people with AIDS, are accessible to a wider audience, and have the potential to improve public response to the epidemic.... His poems expose the codes that map meaning onto the HIV-positive body, destabilize the complex cultural networks that construct gay male identity in the context of the AIDS epidemic, and forge a transformed and transforming language in which to articulate love and loss.... For Doty, poetry is a medium for imagining temporary exemption from history, from the physical and cultural constraints that circumscribe sensation and experience. By revealing the myths and politics that construct the AIDS epidemic and by depicting individual acts that defy the pressure of those constructions, My Alexandria transforms the terms that limit the lives and deaths of people with AIDS.

 
 

From Deborah Landau, "‘How to Live. What to Do.’: The Poetics and Politics of AIDS," American Literature vol. 68, no.1 (1996), pp. 193-225.

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Criticism Overview
Title Deborah Landau: On "My Alexandria" Type of Content General Poet Criticism
Criticism Author Deborah Landau Criticism Target Mark Doty
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 15 Apr 2016
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication ‘How to Live. What to Do.’: The Poetics and Politics of AIDS
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