“Each night I sat on the porch and wished for some surge of feeling, some firelit stream of sound to lead me away from all that I had known.”

strandCan you love a poem that you don’t understand?  I think this question divides the poetry-reading public into two camps: those who prefer Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, and Ted Kooser on the one side, and those who prefer poets such as Mark Strand on the other. In his 1998 Paris Review interview, Strand described why he believes his poems shouldn’t be easily accessible.  Poems, he said, “not only demand patience, they demand a kind of surrender. You must give yourself up to them.”  When that happens, the poems can “enter into your system” where “they’re going to be more influential.”

Mark Strand, “The Students of the Ineffable” in Almost Invisible (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015), 11.

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