AN EXPLANATION, From Poet Mark Strand

December 1, 2014


Well, I think what happens at certain points in my poems is that language takes over, and I follow it. It just sounds right. And I trust the implication of what I’m saying, even though I’m not absolutely sure what it is that I’m saying. I’m just willing to let it be. Because if I were absolutely sure of whatever it was that I said in my poems, if I were sure, and could verify it and check it out and feel, yes, I’ve said what I intended, I don’t think the poem would be smarter than I am. I think the poem would be, finally, a reducible item. It’s this “beyondness,” that depth that you reach in a poem, that keeps you returning to it. And you wonder, The poem seemed so natural at the beginning, how did you get where you ended up? What happened? I mean, I like that, I like it in other people’s poems when it happens. I like to be mystified. Because it’s really that place which is unreachable, or mysterious, at which the poem becomes ours, finally, becomes the possession of the reader. I mean, in the act of figuring it out, of pursuing meaning, the reader is absorbing the poem, even though there’s anabsence in the poem. But he just has to live with that. And eventually, it becomes essential that it exists in the poem, so that something beyond his understanding, or beyond his experience, or something that doesn’t quite match up with his experience, becomes more and more his. He comes into possession of a mystery, you know—which is something that we don’t allow ourselves in our lives.

from interview in Paris Review./


Mark Strand, April 11,1934-November 29,2014


4 Responses to “AN EXPLANATION, From Poet Mark Strand”

  1. leamuse said

    “A poet’s work…to name the unnamable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep.” – Salman Rushdie

  2. One of my favourites is from T.S Eliot ~ “Poetry is not a turning loose of emotions, but an escape from emotions, it is not the expression of personality but an escape from personality.”
    At this day and age, poetry means different things to different poets and readers. Like all art, it is very personal. 🙂

  3. Thank you, kind new friends, for yr rejoinders/ Their literary merit & evocative sense were just right/ thanx & I like what i see on yr blogs

  4. […] AN EXPLANATION, From Poet Mark Strand ( […]

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