"Tell yourself..."

Mark Strand

Lines for Winter

"Mark Strand has chosen the negative path," Mexican poet Octavio Paz once wrote, "with loss as the first step towards fullness: it is also the opening to a transparent verbal perfection." Strand, who was born on Canada's Prince Edward Island in 1934, is recognized for his ability to pair both illusory and starkly real images to create memorable, haunting scenes in his poems. Although known primarily for his poetry, he has also published books of prose, several translations, an anthology of contemporary poetry, and several children's books. In fact, following the release of Selected Poems, the highly autobiographical volume of poems in which "Lines for Winter" appears, Strand stopped writing poetry for more than five years. His next book of poems, The Continuous Life, was not published until 1990. Among Strand's many honors are a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, and a Pulitzer Prize. Strand served as Poet Laureate of the United States (1990-91) and currently teaches in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. "Lines for Winter" is recited in this video by actress Mary Louise Parker, who is especially fond of Strand's poems. She carried a copy of this particular poem in her wallet for years.

"Lines for Winter", from SELECTED POEMS by Mark Strand, copyright © 1979, 1980 by Mark Strand. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

To read this and other poems by Mark Strand, as well as biographical information about the poet, please visit the Poetry Foundation Web site.