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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.

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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 daughter, Jessica. While teaching at the University of Iowa, he earned his third degree, a master of arts, in 1962. He has taught at the University of Brazil, Mount Holyoke College, the University of Washington, Yale, Brooklyn College, Princeton University, Brandeis University, the University of Virginia, Wesleyan University, and Harvard University. From 1981 to 1993, he taught at the University of Utah. Later he taught at The Johns Hopkins University and at the University of Chicago, where he was Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor of Social Thought until 2005, when he became professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University.

In the early 1960’s, Strand’s first poems were accepted for publication by East Coast literary establishment magazines, particularly The New Yorker. He consistently published thereafter, with his works (including translations) appearing in more than a dozen volumes. In 1976, he was married to Julia Rumsey Garretson, and with her he had a son, Thomas Summerfield. Ostensibly, Strand’s children’s books were written in part for his own children, after the fashion of Charles Dickens.


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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...

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