David Baker’s newest book, “Show Me Your Environment: Essays on Poetry, Poets and Poems,” explores the environment of poetry through three lenses: Baker’s personal essays, a study of the chronological evolution of poetry, and finally a critical engagement with selected poems.
“We may live our mind, but our mind lives in our body,” says Baker, professor of English, poet, and holder of the Thomas B. Fordham Chair of Creative Writing.
“In teaching and writing, I try to be a very clear, practical critic,”
Baker, who won the prestigious Theodore Roethke Prize in Poetry in 2011 for his volume of poetry “Never-Ending Birds,” says that this book, “prose made out of poetry,” is the closest thing to a sort of intellectual memoir. The personal-essay section mirrors his reflections on events and influences in his life; the selection of particular poems reveals his habits of reading; while the more academic essays are evidence of how Baker reads and grapples with the critical material.
Baker has spoken and read from his works, and taught in workshops in venues across the country. This fall he will participate as the headline poet for an international poetry festival in Sibiu, Romania, from Sept. 18-21. His poetry and criticism have been translated and published in several languages, including Romanian, French, Spanish, and Italian.
“In teaching and writing, I try to be a very clear, practical critic,” says Baker. “A public critic who is useful for a reader with a good will and a good mind.”
Baker is currently at work on a new book of poetry, titled “Scavenger Loop,” scheduled for publication by W. W. Norton in mid-2015.