Staving Off the World: The Early Years

  • James F. Nicosia


It is important to remember that Mark Strand does not intend his poetry to be studied in sound bites. If we take the American Heritage Dictionary’s definition of holism, “The theory that living matter or reality is made up of organic or unified wholes that are greater than the simple sum of their parts,” we can perhaps better find a starting point for the consideration of Strand’s poetic cosmology. From his first volume, Sleeping with One Eye Open, to his 2006 collection, Man and Camel, transformations abound; confidence waxes and wanes. Nonetheless, Strand’s poetic evolution progresses rather consistently. Strand’s development as a poet reflects changes in Strand’s own life (e.g., The Story ofOur Lives, dedicated to the memory of his late father, is understandably the most recognizably divergent and personal of his volumes), and in his confidence in the practice of poetry. The poetic theory, however, remains intact. In fact, the poems themselves often are reconsiderations of themes from previous poems, or reapplications of theories to new situations. With few exceptions, Strand’s work does not reveal a huge development of the craft of poetry, but rather the honing of a master craftsman. His maturation as a poet seems to have already occurred by the time he released Darker in 1970.


Master Craftsman Imaginative Projection Poetic Imagination Poetic Theory Poetic Creation 
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© James F. Nicosia 2007

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  • James F. Nicosia

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