Mark Strand (1934)
Selected Poems and Bibliography
Mark Strand was born on Canada’s Prince Edward Island on April 11, 1934. He received a B.A. degree from Antioch College in Ohio in 1957 and attended Yale University, where he was awarded the Cook prize and the Bergin prize. After receiving his B.F.A. degree in 1959, Strand spent a year studying at the University of Florence on a Fulbright fellowship. In 1962 he received his M.A. degree from the University of Iowa.
He is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Man and Camel (Knopf, 2006); Blizzard of One (1998), which won the Pulitzer Prize; Dark Harbor (1993); The Continuous Life (1990); Selected Poems (1980); The Story of Our Lives (1973); and Reasons for Moving (1968).
He has also published two books of prose, several volumes of translation (of works by Rafael Alberti and Carlos Drummond de Andrade, among others), several monographs on contemporary artists, and three books for children. He has edited a number of volumes, including 100 Great Poems of the Twentieth Century (W. W. Norton, 2005), The Golden Ecco Anthology (1994), The Best American Poetry 1991, and Another Republic: 17 European and South American Writers (with Charles Simic, 1976).
His honors include the Bollingen Prize, three grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, the 1974 Edgar Allen Poe Prize from The Academy of American Poets, and a Rockefeller Foundation award, as well as fellowships from The Academy of American Poets, the MacArthur Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation.
He has served as Poet Laureate of the United States and is a former Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets. He currently teaches English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York.
From Darker 1970
The Way It Is
The world is ugly
And the people are sad.
I lie in bed.
I toss all night
in the cold unruffled deep
of my sheets and cannot sleep.
My neighbor marches in his room,
wearing the sleek
mask of a hawk with a large beek.
He stands by the window. A violet plume
rises from his helmet’s dome.
The moon’s light
spills over him like milk and the wind rinses the white
glass bowls of his eyes.
His helmet in a shopping bag,
he sits in the park, waving a small American flag.
He cannot be heard as he moves
behind trees and hedges,
always at the frayed edges
of town, pulling a gun on someone like me. I crouch
under the kitchen table, telling myself,
I am a dog, who would kill a dog?
My neighbor’s wife comes home.
She walks into the living room,
takes off her clothes, her hair falls down her back.
She seems to wade
through long flat rivers of shade.
The soles of her feet are black.
She kisses her husband’s neck
and puts her hands inside his pants.
My neighbors dance.
They roll on the floor, his tongue
is in her ear, his lungs
reek with the swill and weather of hell.
Out on the street people are lying down
with their knees in the air, tears
fill their eyes, ashes
enter their ears.
Their clothes are torn
from their backs. Their faces are worn.
Horsemen are riding around them, telling them why
they should die.
My neighbor’s wife calls to me, her mouth is pressed
against the wall behind my bed.
She says, “My husband’s dead.”
I turn over on my side,
hoping she has not lied.
The walls and ceiling of my room are gray—-
the moon’s color through the windows of a laundromat.
I close my eyes.
I see myself float
on the dead sea of my bed, falling away,
calling for help, but the vague scream
sticks in my throat.
I see myself in the park
on horseback, surrounded by dark
leading the armies of peace.
The iron legs of the horse do not bend.
I drop the reins. Where will the turmoil end?
Fleets of taxis stall
in the fog, passengers fall
asleep. Gas pours
from a tri-colored stack.
Locking their doors,
people from offices huddle together,
telling the same story over and over.
Everyone who has sold himself wants to buy himself back.
Nothing is done. The night
eats into their limbs
like a blight.
The future is not what it used to be.
The graves are ready. The dead
shall inherit the dead.
Each year links to its corresponding “[year] in poetry” article for works of poetry or “[year] in literature” article for other works:
1964: Sleeping with One Eye Open, Stone Wall Press
1968: Reasons for Moving: Poems, Atheneum
1970: Darker: Poems, including “The New Poetry Handbook”, Atheneum
1973: The Story of Our Lives, Atheneum
1973: The Sargentville Notebook, Burning Deck
1978: Elegy for My Father, Windhover
1978: The Late Hour, Atheneum
1980: Selected Poems, including “Keeping Things Whole”, Atheneum
1990: The Continuous Life, Knopf
1990: New Poems
1991: The Monument, Ecco Press (see also The Monument, 1978, prose)
1993: Dark Harbor: A Poem, long poem divided into 55 sections, Knopf
1998: Blizzard of One: Poems, Knopf winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for poetry
1999: Chicken, Shadow, Moon & More, with illustrations by the author
1999: “89 Clouds” a single poem, monotypes by Wendy Mark and introduction by Thomas Hoving, ACA Galleries (New York)
2006: Man and Camel, Knopf
2007: New Selected Poems
1978: The Monument, Ecco (see also The Monument, 1991, poetry)
1982: Contributor: Claims for Poetry, edited by Donald Hall, University of Michigan Press
1982: The Planet of Lost Things, for children
1983: The Art of the Real, art criticism, C. N. Potter
1985: The Night Book, for children
1985: Mr. and Mrs. Baby and Other Stories, short stories, Knopf
1986: Rembrandt Takes a Walk, for children
1987: William Bailey, art criticism, Abrams
1993: Contributor: Within This Garden: Photographs by Ruth Thorne-Thomsen, Columbia College Chicago/Aperture Foundation
1994: Hopper, art criticism, Ecco Press
2000: The Weather of Words: Poetic Invention, Knopf
2000: With Eavan Boland, The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms, Norton (New York)
1971: 18 Poems from the Quechua, Halty Ferguson
1973: The Owl’s Insomnia, poems by Rafael Alberti, Atheneum
1976: Souvenir of the Ancient World, poems by Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Antaeus Editions
2002: Looking for Poetry: Poems by Carlos Drummond de Andrade and Rafael Alberti, with Songs from the Quechua
1993: Contributor: “Canto IV”, Dante’s Inferno: Translations by Twenty Contemporary Poets edited by Daniel Halpern, Harper Perennial
1986, according to one source, or 1987, according to another source: Traveling in the Family, poems by Carlos Drummond de Andrade, with Thomas Colchie; translator with Elizabeth Bishop, Colchie, and Gregory Rabassa) Random House
1968: The Contemporary American Poets, New American Library
1970: New Poetry of Mexico, Dutton
1976: Another Republic: Seventeen European and South American Writers, with Charles Simic, Ecco
1991: The Best American Poetry 1991, Macmillan
1994: Golden Ecco Anthology, Ecco Press
1994: The Golden Ecco Anthology
2005: 100 Great Poems of the Twentieth Century, W. W. Norton
Robert Lowell Memorial Lecture
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