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Mark StrandBorn on Prince Edward Island (1934-2014), Mark Strand‘s family moved around and lived in Latin America for much of his adolescence. He went to Yale to study painting, but while there developed an obsession for poetry.

Strand’s spare, deceptively simple investigations of rootlessness, alienation and the ineffable strangeness of life made him one of America’s most hauntingly meditative poets. He was named poet laureate of the United States in 1990 and awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1999 for his collection “Blizzard of One.”  Strand made an early impression with short, often surreal lyric poems that imparted an unsettling sense of personal dislocation — what the poet and critic Richard Howard called “the working of the divided self.”

Strand said, “We feel we have to know what things mean, to be on top of this and that. I don’t think it’s human, you know, to be that competent at life. That attitude is far from poetry.” (from The Writer’s Almanac, 5/20/15)

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The Everyday Enchantment of Music

A rough sound was polished until it became a smoother sound,
which was polished until it became music. Then the music was
polished until it became the memory of a night in Venice when
tears of the sea fell from the Bridge of Sighs, which in turn was
polished until it ceased to be and in its place stood the empty
home of a heart in trouble.

Then suddenly there was sun and the music came back and traffic
was moving and off in the distance, at the edge of the city, a long
line of clouds appeared, and there was thunder, which, however
menacing, would become music, and the memory of what happened
after Venice would begin, and what happened after the home of the
troubled heart broke in two would also begin.

“The Everyday Enchantment of Music” by Mark Strand from Collected Poems. © Knopf, 2014.