The Story of Our Lives, with the Monument and the Late Hour

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9780375709753: The Story of Our Lives, with the Monument and the Late Hour
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Mark Strand is the author of nine books of poems, including Blizzard of One, winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize. He was the Poet Laureate of the United States in 1990, and currently teaches at the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. He lives in Chicago.

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Mark Strand is one of our finest contemporary American poets. The republication of The Story of Our Lives, with The Monument and The Late Hour, a collection of three out-of-print works written in the 1970s, is a testament to Strand's versatility and intellect. The Story of Our Lives is primarily an evocative lament for the author's deceased father, mulling over the questions and frustrations presented when someone close dies, as showcased in the deeply moving "Elegy for My Father": "It is over and nobody knows you." The second book, The Monument, could loosely be described as a series of prose poems utilizing lines from other works, such as those of Wallace Stevens, Walt Whitman, and Friedrich Nietzsche, as Strand presents an amusingly irreverent jab at the seriousness with which many poets (including himself) take themselves and their aspirations of having their works achieve immortality. The last book, The Late Hour, exhibits Strand's characteristic dreamlike quality--images have a sparse and haunting beauty about them, and patterns of quiet thought are reworked in a still, dark night. It's as if, while peering into that dark, one catches a glimpse of something in the periphery, and the residue of that brief image is what Strand explores--the space between what is and isn't there, between light and dark. Also, a prescient recitation of our aspirations of self-understanding and self-improvement can be found here, as in "Lines for Winter": "tell yourself / in that final flowing of cold through your limbs / that you love what you are." This collection serves as a welcome reintroduction to Mark Strand's earlier works. --Michael Ferch

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This book brings together for the first time three out-of-print works written in the 1970's by the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet—-an essential for long-time and first-time readers alike.

It opens with the haunting "Elegy for My Father" from The Story of Our Lives (1973)—-a powerful evocation of the emptiness, abandonment, and questioning that the dead leave to the living—-and moves on to such poems as "Inside the Story," which illuminates the "insides" of love—-the unspoken conversations between lovers, the arbitrary rules with which we guide our relationships.

The witty prose pieces from The Monument (1978) act as a reflective pause between the two poetry collections, commenting upon the immortality of poetry and the harmonious connection between the writer and his future readers. And, flowing seamlessly from these meditations, The Late Hour (1978) exemplifies the timeless power of lyric poetry, bringing us eloquent, lilting poems about the irretrievable past, the redemptive power of love, and the mysterious cycles of human existence:

"Again the late hour, the moon and stars,
the wounds of night that heal without sound,
again the luminous wind of morning that comes before the sun..."

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