Mark Strand (1934–2014)
|photo by Miriam Berkley|
With sadness, we at Blackbird note the death of poet Mark Strand.
We were fortunate to publish his essay, “Poetry in the World,” and in v12n2 we presented an assortment of his recent collages. As we stated at the time,
While the collages definitely employ the vocabularies of image and color rather than those of words and poetry, Strand’s preoccupations with apparently effortless form and economy of space married to surprising playfulness and deceptive resonance track through his work in both genres.
His poems and visual art could be equally meditative and witty, satisfying and contemplative. We are grateful for his kindness and friendship, and we will miss him.
Not every man knows what he shall sing at the end,
Watching the pier as the ship sails away, or what it will seem like
When he’s held by the sea’s roar, motionless, there at the end,
Or what he shall hope for once it is clear that he’ll never go back.
When the time has passed to prune the rose or caress the cat,
When the sunset torching the lawn and the full moon icing it down
No longer appear, not every man knows what he’ll discover instead.
When the weight of the past leans against nothing, and the sky
Is no more than remembered light, and the stories of cirrus
And cumulus come to a close, and all the birds are suspended in flight,
Not every man knows what is waiting for him, or what he shall sing
When the ship he is on slips into darkness, there at the end.
Mark Strand received a BA from Antioch College and a BFA in painting from Yale University. His artwork has been included in both Josef Albers’s Interaction of Color (Yale University Press, 1975) and Bernard Chaet's The Art of Drawing (Cengage Learning, 1983). Strand has written three volumes of art criticism: Hopper (Ecco Press, 1994; Knopf, 2001), William Bailey (Abrams, 1987), and Art of the Real: Nine American Figurative Painters (Clarkson Potter, 1983).
His books of poems include Almost Invisible (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012), New Selected Poems (2007), Man and Camel (2006), Blizzard of One (1998), which won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; Dark Harbor (1993), The Continuous Life (1990), Selected Poems (Atheneum, 1980), The Late Hour (1978), The Story of Our Lives (1973), which won the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Academy of American Poets; Darker (1970), Reasons for Moving (1968), and Sleeping with One Eye Open (Stone Wall Press, 1964). His most recent book is Collected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014). He was the recipient of fellowships and grants from the MacArthur Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He was a member of the National Institute of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Strand served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1990, and was the recipient of the 2004 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets and the 2009 Gold Medal for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
“The End” from The Continuous Life by Mark Strand, copyright © 1990 by Mark Strand. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this poem may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.