May 09, 1978 Guggenhiem MuseumFrom the Academy Audio Archive

About this poet

Mark Strand was born on Canada's Prince Edward Island on April 11, 1934. He received a BA 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 from the University of Iowa.

He was the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Collected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014); Almost Invisible (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012); New Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2007); Man and Camel (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006); Blizzard of One (Alfred A. Knopf, 1998), which won the Pulitzer Prize; Dark Harbor (Alfred A. Knopf, 1993); The Continuous Life (Alfred A. Knopf, 1990); Selected Poems (Atheneum, 1980); The Story of Our Lives (Atheneum, 1973); and Reasons for Moving (Atheneum, 1968).

He 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 included 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 taught English and comparative literature at Columbia University in New York City. He died at eighty years old on November 29, 2014, in Brooklyn, New York.


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From the Long Sad Party

Mark Strand, 1934 - 2014
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 the moon shedding its
   white
on the cold field, that there was nothing ahead
but more of the same.

Someone mentioned
a city she had been in before the war, a room with two
   candles
against a wall, someone dancing, someone watching.
We began to believe

the night would not end.
Someone was saying the music was over and no one had
   noticed.
Then someone said something about the planets, about the 
   stars,
how small they were, how far away.

From The Late Hour by Mark Strand, published by Atheneum. Copyright © 1973 by Mark Strand. Used with permission.

From The Late Hour by Mark Strand, published by Atheneum. Copyright © 1973 by Mark Strand. Used with permission.

Mark Strand

Mark Strand

Mark Strand was awarded the Academy of American Poets Fellowship in 1979 and the Wallace Stevens Award in 2004. He served on Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors from 1995 to 2000.

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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

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poem
Ink runs from the corners of my mouth. 
There is no happiness like mine. 
I have been eating poetry. 

The librarian does not believe what she sees. 
Her eyes are sad 
and she walks with her hands in her dress. 

The poems are gone. 
The light is dim. 
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up. 

Their

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To celebrate the life and poetic contributions of