Biography (Critical Survey of Poetry: American Poets)
Although a Canadian by birth, Mark Strand moved to the United States in 1938, when he was four years old, and has remained there for most of his life. He has consistently described his parents, Robert Joseph Strand and Sonia Apter Strand, as “bookish,” intellectual types who emphasized education and the humanities in his childhood. The youth at first fought his parents’ influence in this regard and sought to become an athlete, although he was interested in art from an early age. He grew up in the country, spending much time without the companionship of other children. In 1954, he entered Antioch College in northern Ohio, where he immediately came under the influence of Nolan Miller, his freshman English teacher and a respected critic, editor, and writer. In his college years, his attraction to and involvement with poetry became undeniable; he discovered that he liked reading it as well as writing it, and, whether consciously or unconsciously, he set upon a career course that would eventually lead to the announcement that he had been appointed poet laureate of the United States by the Library of Congress.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Yale University in 1959, where he also received the Cook Prize and the Bergin Prize. Upon graduation, he was appointed a Fulbright Fellow and spent a year at the University of Florence. In 1961, he was married to Antonia Ratensky, from whom he was divorced in 1973; the marriage saw the birth of one...
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Mark Strand began life on remote Prince Edward Island, Canada, and when he was four, he moved with his parents to the United States. Eventually he landed in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he graduated with his B.A. from Antioch College in 1957. He earned his B.F.A. from Yale University in 1959, was a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Florence (1960-1961), and earned his M.A. from University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, in 1962. As a visiting professor or instructor, Strand has taught at the University of Rio de Janeiro (1965-1966), Mount Holyoke College (1967), the University of Washington (1968), Columbia and Yale Universities (1968-1970), Princeton University (1972), Brandeis University (1973), the University of California at Irvine (1977), and Harvard University (1980). Strand eventually became a professor of English at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
He has received the Cook and Bergin prizes, a second Fulbright Fellowship, the Ingram-Merril Foundation grant, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, and a Rockefeller grant. He won the Academy of American Poets’ Edgar Allan Poe Award (in 1974 for The Story of Our Lives), a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters. He was honored to succeed Robert Penn Warren as the poet laureate of the United States Library of Congress (1990-1991). He was...
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Although Mark Strand was born in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada, in 1934, he moved with his family to the United States at the age of four and spent most of his childhood in New York, Philadelphia, and Cleveland. As a teenager, he lived in Colombia, Peru, and Mexico, most of the traveling due to his father's business in sales. His first education interest was in the visual arts, and he studied painting at Yale after completing his bachelor's degree at Antioch College in Ohio. During this time, he also became interested in writing and turned his attention full time to poetry and short fiction, eventually completing a Master of Fine Arts degree in the writer's workshop at the University of Iowa. Strand never lost his desire to paint and to study art and has published several articles and books on art criticism. He has written nine books of poetry, including the recent 1998 publication of Blizzard of One, as well as three illustrated children's books.
Reasons for Moving, containing the poem "Eating Poetry," was Strand's second collection and earned him national recognition as a poet. Published in 1968, this book established Strand's reputation as a writer of poetic "conundrums," or riddles, usually full of incongruous details, sometimes funny, always bizarre. The early work also presented Strand as a poet with dark, foreboding themes, often centered around death or the idea of negation. His popularity derived from an ability to...
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Mark Strand has developed a reputation as a poet of absence and darkness, whose verse attempts to articulate the uncertainties of human existence. Born in 1934 in Summerside on Prince Edward Island, Canada, to salesman Robert Joseph and Sonia (Apter) Strand, Strand was raised in cities throughout the United States because of his father’s work. Although his childhood ambition was to paint, he found himself writing poems while attending Antioch College, encouraged by author Nolan Miller who was his teacher. Strand received his bachelor of arts degree in 1957 and subsequently took a bachelor of fine arts degree in painting from Yale in 1959 and a master’s degree from the University of Iowa in 1962.
In 1964, Strand published his first collection of poems, Sleeping with One Eye Open, which introduced the eerie, disembodied voice that would become his signature style. Although critics sometimes categorized his work with that of neosurrealists and deep imagists, Strand’s poetry stood out for its sparseness and its obsession with death, otherness, and negation. One of his poems from that collection, “Keeping Things Whole,” remains a favorite of anthologists and is often cited by critics to illustrate Strand’s poetics of absence. Strand’s subsequent volumes, such as Reasons for Moving (1968), Darker (1970), The Story of Our Lives (1973), The Late Hour (1978), and Selected Poems (1980), solidified his...
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