POETRY FROM PARADISE VALLEY

POETRY FROM PARADISE VALLEY
Click Image to Visit the Pecan Grove Press Web Page for Poetry from Paradise Valley

POETRY FROM PARADISE VALLEY web page

Poetry From Paradise Valley

Pecan Grove Press has released an anthology of poems, a sampling of works published in Valparaiso Poetry Review during its first decade, from the original 1999-2000 volume to the 2009-2010 volume.


Poetry from Paradise Valley includes a stellar roster of 50 poets. Among the contributors are a former Poet Laureate of the United States, a winner of the Griffin International Prize, two Pulitzer Prize winners, two National Book Award winners, two National Book Critics Circle winners, six finalists for the National Book Award, four finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and a few dozen recipients of other honors, such as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, etc.

Readers are encouraged to visit the Poetry from Paradise Valley page at the publisher's web site, where ordering information about the book can be found.

Best Books of Indiana 2011: Finalist. Judges' Citation: "Poetry from Paradise Valley is an excellent anthology that features world-class poetry, including the work of many artists from the Midwest, such as Jared Carter, Annie Finch, David Baker, and Allison Joseph. It’s an eclectic and always interesting collection where poems on similar themes flow into each other. It showcases the highest caliber of U. S. poetry."
—Indiana Center for the Book, Indiana State Library

Friday, April 11, 2008

Marking Mark Strand's Birthday

Mark Strand was born on Prince Edward Island, Canada, on April 11, 1934. However, he spent much of his youth in the United States, Mexico, and South America. In his early years Strand became fascinated with art, and after graduating from Antioch College, Strand studied painting at Yale under the guidance of Joseph Albers. Strand originally intended to become an artist. However, as he explains in his collection of prose pieces, The Weather of Words, when he visited his family while on vacation from art school, he confided to his mother that he suddenly had become “more interested in poetry.”

Nevertheless, Strand’s artistic background always has been present as an influence on his poetry. His admiration for Edward Hopper’s works especially has been evident in Strand’s depictions of place and atmosphere. As Strand reports in the opening section of Hopper, his book-length commentary on more than thirty artworks by the iconic American painter: “I often feel that the scenes in Edward Hopper paintings are scenes from my own past. It may be because I was a child in the 1940s and the world I saw was pretty much the one I see when I look at Hoppers today. It may be because the adult world that surrounded me seemed as remote as the one that flourishes in his work. The clothes, the houses, the streets and storefronts are the same. When I was a child what I saw of the world beyond my immediate neighborhood I saw from the backseat of my parents’ car. It was a world glimpsed in passing. It was still. It had its own life and did not know or care that I happened by at a particular time. Like the world of Hopper’s paintings, it did not return my gaze.”

Strand clarified his perception of the purpose for poetry, as well as his attraction to it, with a bit from his narrative in the introduction he wrote when editing the 1991 edition of the annual Best American Poetry anthology. The essay, which was later reprinted in The Weather of Words, describes Strand’s realization of his interest in poetry, and the ways his parents reacted to the revelation he would pursue a poet’s path. His mother’s initial response was to dismiss the notion by advising him: “But then you’ll never be able to make a living.”

Strand’s father gradually grew to consider and comprehend the poetry: “It is 1965. My mother has died. My first book of poems has been published. My father, who, like my mother, has never been a reader of poems, reads my book. I am moved. The image of my father pondering what I have written fills me with unutterable joy.” Witnessing his father’s acceptance of the poetry and the manner in which the meaning of the poems affect the father, especially since “the ones that mean most are those that speak for his sense of loss following my mother’s death,” Strand suggests an understanding about how poetry sometimes impacts its readers.

Strand remarks: “The way poetry has of setting our internal house in order, of formalizing emotion difficult to articulate, is one of the reasons we still depend on it in moments of crisis and during those times when it is important that we know, in so many words, what we are going through. I am thinking of funerals in particular, but the same is true of marriages and birthdays. Without poetry, we would have either silence or banality, the former leaving us to our own inadequate devices for experiencing illumination, the latter cheapening with generalization what we wished to have for ourselves alone, turning our experience into impoverishment, our sense of ourselves into embarrassment.”

From those beginnings as a painter turned poet whose first poetry book, Sleeping with One Eye Open, appeared in 1964, Mark Strand has continued a career that would surprise his mother, more than a dozen volumes with poems that repeatedly fulfill the purpose initially detected in his father’s reception of them: “They seem to tell him what he knows but cannot say. They tell him in so many words what he is feeling. They bring him back to himself.”

In the following decades Strand has published numerous collections of poetry, and he has earned a number of awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, the Bollingen Prize, and a MacArthur Fellowship. He also served as the Poet Laureate of the United States. Along the way, Strand has maintained his interest in art, with books written about the works of Edward Hopper and William Bailey, as well as individual poems either inspired by a painter, such as Giorgio de Chirico, or containing descriptions resembling the details on a painter’s canvas. Strand at times has even illustrated his poetry or created the jacket artwork on the covers of some of his books.

Today, on Mark Strand’s birthday, I’d like to recall a section from Dark Harbor, a book-length poem in forty-five parts that sometimes seems to be less remembered by readers. This piece in the volume reminds me of the blended perspective Strand often offers in his work, combining an artist’s eye for impressively luminous imagery with a poet’s ear for subtly lyrical language:


SECTION XV

What light is this that says the air is golden,
That even the green trees can be saved
For a moment and look bejeweled,

That my hand, as I lift it over the shade
Of my body, becomes a flame pointing the way
To a world from which no one returns, yet towards

Which everyone travels? The sheen of the possible
Is adjusting itself to a change of venue: the look
Of farewell, the sun dipping under the clouds,

Faltering at the serrated edge of the mountains,
Then going quickly. And the new place, the night,
Spacious, empty, a tomb of lights, turning away,

And going under, becoming what no one remembers.


Visitors are invited to view in Valparaiso Poetry Review or “One Poet’s Notes” a couple of my reviews concerning Mark Strand’s books: an extended review of four decades of Strand’s career, “Weather Watch: The Weather of Words,” and a review of his 2006 collection, Man and Camel. Also, readers will find in “One Poet’s Notes” a previous article about Mark Strand’s “Poem After the Seven Last Words.”

3 comments:

Robin Kemp said...

Hi, Ed,

I had teh great pleasure to hear Strand read at Emory last week, and the even greater pleasure of reading his work closely since then. I'm a stark raving fan. It's good to see someone with command of craft writing so well for so many years, and with a certain detached dignity that doesn't include effete snobbery. (Perhaps it's because, as he said, he hangs around with artists, not poets.) What he does with the i.p. line serves as an excellent model for young poets.

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