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From the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, a brilliant and witty collection of writings on the art and nature of poetry—a master class both entertaining and provocative.
The pieces have a broad range and many levels. In one, we sit with the teenage Mark Strand while he reads for the first time a poem that truly amazes him: “You, Andrew Marvell” by Archibald MacLeish, in which night sweeps in an unstoppable but exhilarating circle around the earth toward the speaker standing at noon. The essay goes on to explicate the poem, but it also evokes, through its form and content, the poem's meaning—time’s circular passage—with the young Strand first happening upon the poem, the older Strand seeing into it differently, but still amazed.
Among the other subjects Strand explores: the relationship between photographs and poems, the eternal nature of the lyric, the contemporary use of old forms, four American views of Parnassus, and an alphabet of poetic influences.
We visit as well Strandian parallel universes, whose absurdity illuminates the lack of a vital discussion of poetry in our culture at large: Borges drops in on a man taking a bath, perches on the edge of the tub, and discusses translation; a president explains in his farewell address why he reads Chekhov to his cabinet.
Throughout The Weather of Words, Mark Strand explores the crucial job of poets and their readers, who together joyfully attempt the impossible—to understand through language that which lies beyond words.
“A primer on the magnanimity of poetry, with selected essays, criticism, reflections and inventions. Together they form a creed, which is this: A poem is the unassailable expression of what cannot be expressed in any other way... Poetry is ubiquitous and contagious, hilarious and holy; it bewitches children and converts housewives. Few American poets still write with joy and charmed irony, but in Strand the elation had not diminished.”—Sara Miller, Chicago Tribune