We grieve the recent passing of Mark Strand, one of America’s great poets. Strand was published numerous times in The Antioch Review since the appearance of his first poem in 1961, just a few years following his graduation from Antioch College. Strand was an important and long standing member of The Antioch Review’s Advisory Board. His influence will be missed. According to Editor, Robert Fogarty, there are few among the poetry literati as dedicated to the art, as Strand. Fogarty recalls that even as a student he resisted the enforced regimen of Antioch College that required students to spend semesters in co-op programs away from the college. “Mark always wanted to stay at school and continue to work on his art and literature,” Fogarty reflects. “Yet, during one co-op term he worked at a hospital in Cleveland and was particularly affected in a positive way by having to care for children with polio.”
Following is a 2007 interview with Strand conducted by Lenny Emmanuel that appeared in The Antioch Review’s Winter, 2009 issue. We are publishing the interview in full as a small tribute to Strand’s long-term presence and influence.
Mark Strand And Lenny Emmanuel At The Trestle
(10th Avenue At 24th Street, New York City, Nov. 28, 2007)
BY LENNY EMMANUEL
Mark Strand walks into Don Justice’s class, and I think of Lord Byron, as Mark is strikingly handsome. He’s at least six feet tall, with dark brown hair that tends to be wavy, he has dark brown eyes, is well built with the body of a football player, perhaps of an offensive end with long, strong arms, shoulders, and with, as they say in football, “hands” that could hold onto the pigskin. He’s wearing a light blue-to-gray, short-sleeved shirt, jeans, and well-worn shoes. He says something privately to Don Justice and starts to leave the classroom. Someone in the class (I’m watching Mark) passes a poem forward called “Tree Surgeon” which he or she has dedicated to Mark. Mark reads the poem, passes the poem back without comment, and leaves the room. It’s the first time I’ve seen Mark Strand, but I’ve heard he is cryptic, aloof, and inaccessible. That afternoon I return to our apartment on North Dubuque Street and relate the episode to my wife Len, who innocently asks, “Who is Mark Strand?” I explain and say firmly, “I will definitely stay away from him. He would not be a friendly reader.” On two or three occasions during the next semester, Mark attempts to speak with me, but I am cryptic, aloof, and inaccessible. A year or so later, in 1965, Mark leaves for Rio de Janeiro with a Fulbright lectureship. Having been trained as a clinical chemist at the U. of Miami, I accept dual appointments in pathology and English at Indiana University’s Medical Center and in English at Indiana University in Indianapolis. My wife, children, and I leave Iowa City. About 20 years later, Mark reads in Indianapolis, and we meet for dinner, during which he makes a startling comment, “Lenny, I am no longer a poet.” I immediately reply, “No, Mark, you will always be a poet.” At that time he was at the University of Utah, and I don’t see Mark again until November 28, 2007. Continue reading