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About this poet

Mark Strand was born on Canada's Prince Edward Island on April 11, 1934. He received a BA 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 BFA degree in 1959, Strand spent a year studying at the University of Florence on a Fulbright fellowship. In 1962 he received his MA degree from the University of Iowa.

He is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Collected Poems (Knopf/Random House, 2014); Almost Invisible (Knopf, 2012); New Selected Poems (Knopf, 2007); Man and Camel (Knopf, Alfred A. Knopf, 2006); Blizzard of One (Knopf, 1998), which won the Pulitzer Prize; Dark Harbor (Knopf, 1993); The Continuous Life (Knopf, 1990); Selected Poems (Atheneum, 1980); The Story of Our Lives (Atheneum, 1973); and Reasons for Moving (Atheneum, 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, a Rockefeller Foundation award, three grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, the 2004 Wallace Stevens Award, the Academy of American Poets Fellowship in 1979, the 1974 Edgar Allen Poe Prize from the Academy of American Poets, as well as fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation and the Ingram Merrill Foundation.

He served as poet laureate of the United States from 1990 to 1991 and as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1995 to 2000. He currently teaches English and comparative literature at Columbia University in New York.


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The Everyday Enchantment of Music

Mark Strand, 1934

A rough sound was polished until it became a smoother sound, which was polished until it became music. Then the music was polished until it became the memory of a night in Venice when tears of the sea fell from the Bridge of Sighs, which in turn was polished until it ceased to be and in its place stood the empty home of a heart in trouble. Then suddenly there was sun and the music came back and traffic was moving and off in the distance, at the edge of the city, a long line of clouds appeared, and there was thunder, which, however menacing, would become music, and the memory of what happened after Venice would begin, and what happened after the home of the troubled heart broke in two would also begin.

From Almost Invisible by Mark Strand. Copyright © 2012 by Mark Strand. Reprinted with permission of Knopf. All rights reserved.

From Almost Invisible by Mark Strand. Copyright © 2012 by Mark Strand. Reprinted with permission of Knopf. All rights reserved.

Mark Strand

Mark Strand

Mark Strand was born on Canada's Prince Edward Island on April 11, 1934.

by this poet

poem
Someone was saying
something about shadows covering the field, about
how things pass, how one sleeps towards morning
and the morning goes.

Someone was saying
how the wind dies down but comes back,
how shells are the coffins of wind
but the weather continues.

It was a long night
and someone said something about
poem
On the eve of my fortieth birthday
I sat on the porch having a smoke
when out of the blue a man and a camel
happened by. Neither uttered a sound
at first, but as they drifted up the street
and out of town the two of them began to sing.
Yet what they sang is still a mystery to me—
the words were indistinct and
poem
1

When the moon appears
and a few wind-stricken barns stand out
in the low-domed hills
and shine with a light
that is veiled and dust-filled
and that floats upon the fields,
my mother, with her hair in a bun,
her face in shadow, and the smoke
from her cigarette coiling close
to the faint yellow sheen of her