Entertainment & Arts

Mark Strand, Pulitzer-winning US poet, dies at 80

Mark Strand Image copyright AP
Image caption Strand was remembered by his daughter as "elegant, generous and brilliant"

Mark Strand, a former US poet laureate who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1999, has died in New York aged 80.

Strand, whose works were translated into more than 30 languages, died at his daughter's home on Saturday from liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer.

Absence and loss were recurring themes for the writer, who was known for his precise language and surreal imagery.

One of his poems, Keeping Things Whole, begins with the stanza: "In a field. I am the absence of field."

"This is always the case," the poem continues. "Wherever I am I am what is missing."

Born on Prince Edward Island in Canada, Strand grew up in various cities across the US and South America.

'Masterly' poetry

Sleeping With One Eye Open, his first collection, was published in 1964. Its title poem, he later revealed, drew on the anxiety he felt at the height of America's cold war with the Soviet Union.

His early work saw him characterised, unjustly in his eyes, as a brooding poet obsessed with uncertainty and death.

"I find them evenly lit," he once said in reference to his poems' apparent darkness.

Strand's Pulitzer was awarded for his 1998 collection Blizzard of One, described as "masterly" by the New York Times.

"Strand's poems resonate with a shimmering sense of the infinite," the newspaper's critic wrote.

"Strand doesn't approach the universal through the particular. He approaches the universal through the universal".

In addition to writing and translating poetry, Strand wrote children's books and art criticism and helped edit several poetry anthologies.

His daughter Jessica remembered him as "a funny, elegant, generous and brilliant man... who lived to work and to be with his friends and the people he loved."

More on this story