Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Me 'n Mark Strand, Poet Laureate of the U.S., 1990

Perhaps because I defended you and your style of poetry the other day with Jim Murdoch on Elisabeth's blog , I ran into you today at Ruth's Diner. I was doing my usual Shooting Strangers in Restaurants, when I noticed that you were no stranger. I had a poetry workshop from you 25 years ago where I wrote the first draft of Green Lake, a poem I have reworked on and off for years. I was scared to death of you. You gave me an 'A' because your method of grading was to leave it up to us. You seemed pleased when I walked up to you, told you I was a fan and asked the woman you were with to take our picture. Thank you for being so gracious. You don't frighten me anymore. 

To Mark

Oh Marky, Mark Mark -
you're tall and still handsome.
I can't write poetry
on the same day
I ran into you.
Maybe tomorrow.


  1. Oh, Kass, wasn't he also one of the founding members of Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch? I'm KIDDING! I know who he is and I saw you running defense over at Elisabeth's. And I imagine it would please him to know you're no longer frightened of him. How ironic you saw him during poetry month!

  2. Idol worship is a wonderful thing!!!

  3. I just bought a copy of Mark Strand's New and Selected Poems. I had no idea he was so handsome. I know what he was doing at Ruth's Diner.
    "Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
    There is no happiness like mine.
    I have been eating poetry."

  4. LES - Oh yes, I remember Mark Wahlberg and the Funky bunch. It's probably not too ironic that I ran into him. He's in town because it's poetry month and he did a reading at the library tonight. I went. It was pretty cool.

    HELEN - He is one very impressive man in person.

    MAIRI - What a coincidence! It's amazing how good-looking he still is. He read "Eating Poetry" tonight at the library. It was delightful. He's been writing poetry since he was a child. He read a wonderful poem about his mother, set in Nova Scotia.

  5. Needless to say I don’t know him. But then I don’t know most British poets either. I found some of his stuff online. They were poems every one of them. They all contained that certain je ne sais pas that makes a poem a poem. Some I liked better than others. I liked Eating Poetry best of those I read although if I’d written it I would have given him gas.

  6. JIM - I think your rewrite of Eating Poetry would be air and fun-filled. I'd love to see how you'd do it. We can't know all poets, but I sure like discovering new good ones.

  7. Eating Poetry

    (after Mark Strand)

    I try not to eat poetry:
    it tends to give me gas.

    I have trouble with rhymes as well:
    they just pass straight through me.

    Metaphors are okay as long
    as they’re not extended.

    I am partial to a slice of

    but just the one. Any more and
    I suffer for my art

    if you get my drift.

    Thursday, 08 April 2010

    (Of course, here in the UK, it's 'wind' and not 'gas'.)

  8. @jim Surely you mean "Je ne sais quoi"? From a "hokey" non-writer (and incidental french speaker) to the celebrated author. ; j

    Thanks for the introduction to Strand, will look further into his writing.

  9. @Alesa - You're quite right. The trouble is that we Brits have been saying je ne sais pas for so long that it's become part of our everyday speech. It's like the difference between die and dice - people commonly talk about 'a dice' when it should be 'a die' but even though it's correct 'a die' sounds somehow wrong me to.

  10. It's lovely to see you with your poetry hero, Kass. Lucky you to meet him in the flesh as it were.

    I have enjoyed this conversation. It gives me the courage to struggle on with the 'occasional' poem.

  11. A picture with a hero is priceless.

    That little ditty at the end was perfect!

  12. British poet + winning smile + glasses= HOT

  13. @Jim: Well, to me it just sounds like "you don't know" (not an attack, I just couldn't resist playing with that cross-lingually).
    Hmm, everyday speech... many french people abbreviate sweatshirts (jumpers if you prefer) to "sweats" AND pronounce it "sweets"; I always cringe when I hear it.
    I wasn't aware that die and dice had slipped that far ("a dice"? Really?). I thought it was just something that people picked up along the way, like the the difference between ensure and insure, affect and effect, pluralizing elf and dwarf...
    Ultimately, in this context, I suppose the important thing is that the words convey meaning and that communication takes place... But I don't have to like it (said petulantly)!
    I just want to use words to the best of my knowledge and abilities (as limited as that may be), regardless of what everyone else does.

    @Kass: Sorry for the linguistic tangent.
    Maybe you can tell me, is conversing with other commenters in the comments a faux-pas in blogspotiquettte? I hardly ever see it... I am new to your planet and have yet to learn your ways.

  14. @Alesa - The thing is I should know. My wife has corrected me more than once but old habits are hard to break. I'll tell you another one - euphemisms, I consistently pronounce it euphenisms because I learned it wrong when I was a kid and it's stuck. And my wife corrects me every time I say that too.

  15. @Jim: : j I guess we'll have to call off your trophy for perfection.

    You may have already thought of this, but blaspheme and euphemism have the same root... Maybe that would be a way of remembering the "m" when you say it?

  16. Oh JIM - You've swept me along with your wind. I get your drift all the way across the great ocean that divides us. This poem moves me in the way intended. I must leave the computer now.

    ELISABETH - Please continue your courageous struggle.

    P. J. - I feel kind of goofy to plop myself onto famous people. I did it to Ray Bradbury when I lived in Palm Springs. I don't think famous people mind being adored for their work.

    JULIE - He's Canadian, but that doesn't lessen his hotness.

    ALESA - Interchange between those who comment is highly encouraged by ME. There seems to be blogspotiquette, but really there are no rules and if there are, I would encourage breaking them. I enjoyed this conversation, as I'm sure others did. Party on!

  17. How wonderful for you! What a delightful picture! I've loved his poetry for years and now I know how handsome he is [I'm partial to "older" men myself] I'll probably love his poetry even more.

  18. JUNE - Handsome doesn't even cover it. His manner is witty and charming and understated in person. I'm going to have to go back and see which quilt you did on one of his poems. Something with stars in it?

  19. It's the oddest thing. It was just a few weeks ago that I received a copy of Strand's New Selected Poems from a friend who knew I loved his poetry.

    I got Mark Strand comin' at me from all sides! Is this a portent?

  20. JONAS - Lately, there are coincidences everywhere. Maybe we're just more connected to things because of how blogical we are.

  21. I know I'm late here but I just had to say: 'squeak! Mark Strand looks like my dream poet. And his name is completely new to me but I will now seek out a book of his, so thanks for this great, terribly exciting, post.

  22. JONAS - I was trying for cute. Good.

    ERYL - Squeak away. If you google Mark Strand, you will find all kinds of comments on the order of: ..Now there's a poet I'd sleep with...
    While he was in Utah, I think he divorced for the 3rd or 4th time. He had quite the reputation. When he put his arm around me at Ruth's Diner it was warm and intentioned.


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