Poetic Partnership

Poet Mark Doty and his partner, novelist Paul Lisicky, both grew up in suburban neighborhoods, but neither was your typical suburban kid. Doty was a military brat and a self-described "chubby, smart, bookish sissy with glasses and a Southern accent" who also happened to be gay. Lisicky was a scrawny teen who dreamed of designing a utopian suburban community of his own. He, too, was gay. Both young men would end up writing extensively about coming to terms with their sexuality as they grew up in the burbs.

Doty and Lisicky teach creative writing now -- Doty at the University of Houston, Lisicky at Sarah Lawrence College. They split their time between Texas and Massachusetts and make joint appearances when they can. There are some benefits to living with a fellow writer. As Doty told The Advocate, Lisicky has given him "a lot of help." And Doty gave a few editorial suggestions of his own for Lisicky's novel Lawn Boy, about a 17-year-old kid who gets tossed out of the house when his parents discover he's gay. (When Doty was a teenager, his parents happily dropped him off at Highway 1 to hitchhike to San Francisco.)

Though primarily a poet, Doty has written some well-received memoirs, including Heaven's Coast, about his former partner's battle with AIDS, and Firebird, about how his sexuality has affected his family. Lisicky tried his hand at memoirs about his youth with his recent book Famous Builder.

It's a more gay-friendly world now than during their youths. There are more openly gay role models, and as teachers, both Doty and Lisicky are seeing more and more students who are confident about their identities at a younger age.

Now if we can just find a way to overcome the trauma of a suburban childhood.

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Dylan Otto Krider