Mark Strand Blizzard of One: Poems

ISBN 13: 9780375401398

Blizzard of One: Poems

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9780375401398: Blizzard of One: Poems
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Strand's poems occupy a place that exists between abstraction and the sensuous particulars of experience. It is a place created by a voice that moves with unerring ease between the commonplace and the sublime. The poems are filled with "the weather of leavetaking," but they are also unexpectedly funny. The erasure of self and the depredations of time are seen as sources of sorrow, but also as grounds for celebration. This is one of the difficult truths these poems dramatize with stoicism and wit. The winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Blizzard of One is an extraordinary book--the summation of the work of a lifetime by one of our very few true masters of the art of poetry.

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Review:

Mark Strand's Blizzard of One features a collage of his own devising on the cover: an expanse of red and blue geometric planes, broken up by the appearance of an ice floe on the imaginary horizon. The image invites the viewer to fill up the surrounding emptiness. So too does the white space surrounding Strand's taut, spare, metaphysical verse. The quest for the single lyric's integrity and wholeness sets Strand apart from those poets for whom the provisional is everything. And this is an artist who never shies away from the absolute: indeed, he manages to make each poem in the book recapitulate the beginning and the end.

There is a terrible atmosphere of finality and doom to these poems. In two splendid villanelles, for example, Strand pays homage to De Chirico, and the tension of lines like these brings with it a strange shiver of pleasure:

Boredom sets in first, and then despair.
One tries to brush it off. It only grows.
Something about the silence of the square.

Something is wrong; something about the air,
Its color; about the light, the way it glows.
Boredom sets in first, and then despair.

Strand continues to acknowledge his debt to Wallace Stevens, while taking the impulse to a further level of abstraction: "Even now we seem to be waiting / For something whose appearance would be its vanishing." Yet he can also deal lightly and self-mockingly with serious concerns: "Now that the great dog I worshipped for years / Has become none other than myself, I can look within / And bark, and I can look at the mountains down the street / And bark at them as well...." No poet has been able to make more out of a minimalist aesthetic than Mark Strand. He strives for elegance and masterful brevity, and whether he's working his ominous or light-fingered register, his formalism is never precious, always an agent of necessity. --Mark Rudman

About the Author:

Mark Strand is a former Poet Laureate of the United States. He has written eight earlier books of poems, which have brought him many honors and grants, including a MacArthur Fellowship. He is the author of a book of stories, Mr. and Mrs. Baby, several volumes and translations (of works by Rafeal Alberti and Carlos Drummond de Andrade, among others), the editor of a number of anthologies, and author of several monographs on contemporary artists (William Bailey and Edward Hopper). He was born in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada, and was raised and educated in the United States and South America. He teaches currently in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780375701375: Blizzard of One: Poems

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ISBN 10:  0375701370 ISBN 13:  9780375701375
Publisher: Knopf, 2000
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9781904130154: Blizzard of One

Waywis..., 2005
Softcover

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