Happy birthday, Mark Strand! Here are some quotes from his work.
“I think the best American poetry is the poetry that utilizes the resources of poetry rather than exploits the defects or triumphs of the poet’s personality. Poetry is, first and last, language—the rest is filler.”
“I think a poet’s focus is…not entirely on the world outside. It’s fixed on the area where the inside meets the outside, where the poet’s sensibility meets the weather, meets the street, meets other people…that shadow land between self and reality.”
“I’m putting together what I need to have this thing alive.”
“That’s our imaginary lives. It’s different. It obeys different rules. Anything goes. We can do anything in our imaginations which is not possible in actuality to do. And we bear the responsibility for our actions in real life, but for our imaginative life, it would be terribly constricting if we held to the responsibilities of our actions there. Because they are not our actions. It’s a mistake to make moral judgments about what one does in his writing. It’s this imaginary world and it has its own rules and it’s where you can do things. If suddenly we weren’t able to write about certain things this would be a kind of tyranny and our imaginations would be jailed.”
“It wouldn’t be any fun to write the poems if we had absolute control. We have to be surprised by our poems. Surprised by things that come to mind and that, at least while you’re writing the poems, seem absolutely necessary for the life of the poem.”
“But if you’re a writer or an artist of any sort, you do depend on your imagination and to cultivate it is not like bodybuilding, it’s a kind of thinking, of daydreaming.”
“[W]riting poetry for me was a way of creating identity, one that I didn’t have.”
“I am interested in relinquishing my imagination to the possibilities that language offers up.”
John Madera is the author of Nervosities (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024). His other fiction is published in Conjunctions, Salt Hill, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His nonfiction is published in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, New York State Council on the Arts awardee John Madera lives in New York City, Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.