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Mark Strand

Mark Strand

Canadian-American poet, essayist, translator
The basics
Occupations Poet Writer Translator Editor
Countries United States of America
Gender male
Birth September 9, 1934 (Summerside)
Death November 29, 2014 (Brooklyn)
Education Yale University, University of Iowa, Antioch University, Antioch College
Authority ISNI id Library of congress id Musicbrainz id VIAF id
The details

Mark Strand (April 11, 1934 – November 29, 2014) was a Canadian-born American poet, essayist and translator. He was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1990 and received the Wallace Stevens Award in 2004. Strand was a professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University from 2005 until his death in 2014.


Strand was born in 1934 at Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Raised in a secular Jewish family, he spent his early years in North America and much of his adolescence in South and Central America. Strand graduated from Oakwood Friends School in 1951 and in 1957 earned his B.A. from Antioch College in Ohio. He then studied painting under Josef Albers at Yale University, where he earned a B.F.A in 1959. On a U.S.-Italy Fulbright Commission scholarship, Strand studied 19th-century Italian poetry in Florence in 1960–61. He attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa the following year and earned a Master of Arts in 1962. In 1965 he spent a year in Brazil as a Fulbright Lecturer.

In 1981, Strand was elected a member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters. He served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress during the 1990–91 term. In 1997, he left Johns Hopkins University to accept the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professorship of Social Thought at the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. From 2005 to his death, Strand taught literature and creative writing at Columbia University, in New York City.

Strand received numerous awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship in 1987 and the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, for Blizzard of One.

Strand died of liposarcoma on November 29, 2014, in Brooklyn, New York.


Many of Strand's poems are nostalgic in tone, evoking the bays, fields, boats, and pines of his Prince Edward Island childhood. Strand has been compared to Robert Bly in his use of surrealism, though he attributes the surreal elements in his poems to an admiration of the works of Max Ernst, Giorgio de Chirico, and René Magritte. Strand's poems use plain and concrete language, usually without rhyme or meter. In a 1971 interview, Strand said, "I feel very much a part of a new international style that has a lot to do with plainness of diction, a certain reliance on surrealist techniques, and a strong narrative element."

Academic career

Strand's academic career took him to various colleges and universities, including:

Teaching positions

  • University of Iowa, Iowa City, instructor in English, 1962–1965
  • University of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Fulbright lecturer, 1965–1966
  • Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA, assistant professor, 1967
  • Columbia University, New York City, adjunct associate professor, 1969–1972
  • Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, New York City, associate professor, 1970–1972
  • Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, Bain-Swiggett Lecturer, 1973
  • Brandeis University, Hurst professor of poetry, 1974–1975
  • University of Utah, Salt Lake City, professor of English, 1981–1993
  • Johns Hopkins University, Elliot Coleman Professor of Poetry, 1994–c. 1998
  • University of Chicago, Committee on Social Thought, 1998 – ca. 2005
  • Columbia University, New York City, professor of English and Comparative Literature, ca. 2005–2014

Visiting professor

  • University of Washington, 1968, 1970
  • Columbia University, 1980
  • Yale University, 1969–1970
  • University of Virginia, 1976, 1978
  • California State University at Fresno, 1977
  • University of California at Irvine, 1979
  • Wesleyan University, 1979
  • Harvard University, 1980


Strand has been awarded the following:

  • 1960–1961: Fulbright Fellowship
  • 1979: Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets
  • 1987: MacArthur Fellowship
  • 1990–1991: Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress
  • 1992: Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry
  • 1993: Bollingen Prize
  • 1999: Pulitzer Prize, for Blizzard of One
  • 2004: Wallace Stevens Award
  • 2009: Gold Medal in Poetry, from the American Academy of Arts and Letters

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