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NPR Arts & Life

Mark Strand's Poetry Moved Easily From Common To Sublime

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Mark Strand, a former U.S. poet laureate, passed away yesterday at the age of 80. His work was spare and haunting, devoid of embellishment. His deceptively simple poems explored the strangeness and alienation that happens in a life. In 1999, Strand was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his collection "Blizzard Of One." One review described the poems as moving with, quote, unerring ease between the commonplace and the sublime. A few years ago, Strand reimagined himself as a Spanish poet reaching his final days. Here he is reading that work.

MARK STRAND: (Reading) Black fly, black fly, why have you come? Is it my shirt? My new white shirt with buttons of bone? Is it my suit? My dark blue suit? Is it because I lie here alone, under a willow, cold as stone? Black fly, black fly, how good you are to come to me now. How good you are to visit me here. Black fly, black fly, to wish me goodbye.

MARTIN: Even though he often used the past as a theme, Strand looked toward what was to come. On this Sunday morning, we remember him with his own words. The future is always beginning now. You're listening to NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.