Poetry and Peace and Mark Strand

I noticed a couple of days ago that poet Mark Strand had died. Although I’d like to, I don’t own every poetry anthology or poetry book, and I only have one of his poems in an anthology, so I was curious about Mark Strand’s work.

There is an intriguing reference to Strand’s interest in surrealist painters like Giorgio de Chirico and René Magritte in his page at Wikipedia. At one time he wanted to be an artist and received a Master’s degree in fine art, but somewhere he morphed into a poet. Mark Strand was born in Prince Edward Island and later moved to the States, and speaks of the nature surrounding his youthful home in many poems, the sea and fields of his childhood. He was also influenced by Wallace Stevens, one of my favourite poets. Strand was named US Poet Laureate in 1990 and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1999 for his collection Blizzard of One.

I picked a poem of his to go with today’s card.

PEACE – COVERED BY THE UNIVERSE

Peace_SueLion

Imagine the days of childhood lying on the grass and cloud-gazing, thinking every cloud was a creature? Well, we can still imagine such things and in particular doves of peace surrounding us and knowing that peace is also inside us.

It is the sky of possibilities.

A PIECE OF THE STORM
Mark Strand

for Sharon Horvath

From the shadow of domes in the city of domes,
A snowflake, a blizzard of one, weightless, entered your room
And made its way to the arm of the chair where you, looking up
From your book, saw it the moment it landed. That’s all
There was to it. No more than a solemn waking
To brevity, to the lifting and falling away of attention, swiftly,
A time between times, a flowerless funeral. No more than that
Except for the feeling that this piece of the storm,
Which turned into nothing before your eyes, would come back, That someone years hence, sitting as you are now, might say:
“It’s time. The air is ready. The sky has an opening.”

 

 

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4 Comments on “Poetry and Peace and Mark Strand”

  1. Beverly King Says:

    I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise that I love poets who use natural references in their poems. 🙂 I needed to read this morning about “the sky of possibilities” and that “the sky has an opening.” My mind is quick to convince me otherwise if I let it.

  2. JJ Says:

    I’m not sure since he wrote the poem for a specific person and because of the “flowerless funeral” reference, if it refers to her subsequent death and thus the sky having an opening, but I liked the idea of the sky having an opening for thoughts about peace, and the air being ready to receive the imagination of many people thinking about peace.

    That’s what I like about poetry, it hits you in different ways. I have a whole bookshelf of poetry books in my bedroom. Stanley Kunitz, who was US Poet Laureate and also won the Pulitzer, wrote a lot of poetry about nature in his latter years. I have a collection of his work.

    The collection “Braided Creek” by Ted Kooser and Jim Harrison is a gem of small snippets about nature. Someone recommended it to me and it’s wonderful. Each poem has 4 lines (but not Haiku) and they didn’t say which of the two men wrote what–very interesting with some humour and some sadness.

    A bumblebee,
    a straggly rosebush
    staining the air with her scent.
    A blue and black butterfly —
    too many Bs but life is like that.

    Or this one:

    This morning,
    fish bleed into nacreous clouds
    and an iron bird walks to town
    on the bottom of the river.

    I just bought a book by Canadian poet Don Domanski called “All Our Wonder Unavenged” which has several poems about nature.

    Here is one called “Mere”

    I lie beside a pond hidden by weeds
    the nearest things are approaching
    a hush is like a place
    shining water and shining stones
    homecoming in an ever-receding will
    then a breeze outstretched to clouds
    then a sparrow carried on a stranger’s wings.

    And of course there is Mary Oliver who has such lovely nature in many of her poems.

  3. Beverly King Says:

    Those poems are beautiful in their simplicity. I am familiar with Kooser and Harrison, but not Domanski. Oliver is pure genius as a poet to me. 🙂

    • JJ Says:

      Hey, you know those two guys! I haven’t got individual collections by them but Braided Creek is magic.

      Yeah, Mary Oliver is one in a million, a very talented poet.


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