Mark Strand

I love him so much. Sometimes I forget how much … and then I see a new poem, or one I’ve forgotten, and it’s omg I love him so much all over again.

The first time was “Eating Poetry“.

I also have Blizzard of One, which I shall reread tonight, because I’m in a Mark Strand mood now.

Why? Because I was at Slate earlier and they had this up…

“The Enigma of the Infinitesimal”

You’ve seen them at dusk, walking along the shore, seen them standing in doorways, leaning from windows, or straddling the slow moving edge of a shadow. Lovers of the in-between, they are neither here nor there, neither in nor out. Poor souls, they are driven to experience the impossible. Even at night, they lie in bed with one eye closed and the other open, hoping to catch the last second of consciousness and the first of sleep, to inhabit that no man’s land, that beautiful place, to behold as only a god might, the luminous conjunction of nothing and all.

What do you think this means? (We must discuss, all academic-like, so I don’t get in trouble for posting!)

The comments at Slate focused on the ending, but I took the poem as a whole, didn’t separate the end from the beginning, and from the first moment felt a profound restless sadness emanating from the piece (of course I realize that I probably brought this bla bla). I suppose I think of dusk as a harbinger of loss, so when something begins then, the mantle of sadness descends unless there’s some mitigating factor, which here there was not.

And Strand says “poor souls,” which amplifies the gloomy tone for me. I don’t feel he’s mocking these seekers in any way, instead capturing the moments where they struggle to connect with something, but ultimately cannot. The “something” could be spiritual, or love of another person (romantic or otherwise), or some part of themselves.

Strand returns often to the concept of nothingness, the obliteration of self, the tenuous connections we have with others and with being–if you scroll down here you can catch a few more mentions. Also, here’s another favorite of mine where Strand beautifully captures the space/negative space we physically occupy.

Hope you love Mark Strand too. If not, idk what to tell you.

11 responses to “Mark Strand

  1. Had not heard of him. One must delve further cuz poetry, done well, is capital L Literature at its highest point.


  2. Mmmmm mmmmmm delicious. I love it. There’s nothing I enjoy more that glimpsin, however briefly that “luminous conjunction of nothing and all”. Mark Strand, eh? Never read him before. Thanks!


  3. Wow. Mark Strand. Thanks for turning me on to him. Just read his essay, “Poetry in the World”. Maybe you’ve already read it but, if not, it’s wonderful.


  4. Hi Paula and Asha. I’m chancing my arm at this poetry thing:

    Don’t laugh too hard. 😉


  5. I won’t pretend to understand what this poem means, but I do like it. I wondered if the poor souls who stand in-between are the ones who try to understand poems.


  6. Spectre/ghost-man-no man-god…that’s some upward progression that Strand takes us through!

    I’ve never heard of Strand, but this makes me want to do some digging. (I keep meaning to visit the Poetry section of Barnes and Noble to do some browsing, but I don’t even know if they have one or if its some sad adjunct to the Fiction section.)

    Thanks for sharing this.


  7. Come again?Je suis un rock star.


  8. Face it, peeps. Even my typos are glorious.


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