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BLIZZARD OF ONE by Mark Strand


by Mark Strand

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-375-40139-3
Publisher: Knopf

Former Poet Laureate, and a writer in a number of genres, this Univ. of Chicago professor and much-honored poet has developed over the years an aesthetic much his own: The discursive, easy surfaces of his quiet, gently surreal poems accumulate into a complex metaphysic, a notion of time and space that permeates his every utterance, whether abstract or concrete. And his poems teem with simple actions and things: a dog barks, a snowflake melts, a ship sails. Strand can—t escape the momentary nature of experience: In the revelatory —Suite of Appearances,— he captures the fluidity of the self and reminds us that —the history of ourselves— —leaves us cold,— the past means nothing to our ever-present nowness. Risking tautology, Strand suggests that the self is both a disguise and not one, that —all things are wronged/By representation,— an idea that helps explain his precise diction, however —wronged— the object he hopes to describe. Poem after poem exults in the pleasures of daily life and the clarity of immediate experience, which makes his elegy to Joseph Brodsky an awkward remembrance, —a measure of meanwhile.— At his best, Strand pursues the elusive pronoun —it— through poems that duplicate randomness and repeat themselves often. At his self- congratulatory worst, in the dizzingly long —Delirium Waltz,— he includes himself in the dance of great poets, whom he refers to coyly by first names, from Eliot and Dickinson, to Donald Justice and —Red— Warren, to Jorie Graham and Charles Wright. The canonization of himself and his contemporaries seems premature, however indicative it is of Strand’s artistic confidence..