Butler Univeristy Visiting Writer’s Series Welcomes Poet Mark Strand

Butler University’s Visiting Writer’s Series bring talented writers to the Indianapolis all year, poet Mark Strand is no exception. As a premier contemporary American poet, Strand brings an unparalleled grasp of language to his work. This Indianapolis education event will be held in the Reilly Room of Atherton Union on Butler University’s campus Tuesday, April 13 at 7:30 pm. As always the Visiting Writer’s Series at Butler University is FREE to all Indianapolis people. Hear Mark Strand read his remarkable poetry in a voice all his own, then pick his poetic brain with your questions.

As well as being a talented poet, Mark Strand is also an accomplished editor, translator and prose writer. In 1990, he was named to United States Poet Laureate. Just nine years later his collection Blizzard One garnered him the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. His road to this type of success spans more than four decades, as Strand saw the country deteriorate and rebuild itself during the turbulent 1960s.

Born on Prince Edward Island, Canada, Strand grew up in the United States. As a young man, he pursued painting at Antioch College, where he received a B.A., and at Yale University, where he earned his B.F.A. in 1959. But by the age of twenty, Mark Strand’s interest in painting waned, and he began his path toward poetry. After graduating from Yale, he traveled to Italy on a Fulbright Scholarship, where he studied nineteenth century Italian poetry. Strand himself admits that poetry and language were initially a stretch for him. “I was never much good with language as a child,” he said in an interview with Los Angeles Times Magazine, “Believe me, the idea that I would someday become a poet would have come as a complete shock to everyone in my family.”

In 1962, Strand received an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop. He began teaching at various colleges and universities including Yale, Princeton and Harvard. In 1965, he spent a year in Brazil as a Fulbright lecturer. Strand remembers life in the 1960s as difficult, but with some benefits saying, “Groupies were a big part of the scene. Poets were underground pop stars, and when we made the campus circuit, girls would flock around. It wasn’t bad. I rather liked the uncertainties of my life then.”

His first collection of poetry, Sleeping with One Eye Open (1964), introduced Strand’s unique approach to writing. His writing is shaped by an overall sense of anxiety and restless foreboding. The title poem alone reveals a great deal about the entire volume as Strand explains that it “speaks to a certain anxiety I experienced back in the early ’60s. I was afraid the United States would go to war with Russia or the USSR. I think it’s a poem surrounded by a great deal of silence.” His early poetry expresses a deep concern for recovering identity and self. This theme would come to permeate all of his work, as he grew as a writer.

Strand wrote seven more volumes of poetry through the sixties and seventies, before his writing no longer made sense to his self. He took a decade long break from poetry to explore other avenues of literature and writing. During that time he wrote three children’s books. As in his poetry, these stories focused on loss, using the genre to connect with children about common childhood worries.

In 1990, he returned to poetry, publishing eight more collections of work. Mark Strand has been published in countless collections of poetry, literary magazines and other publications. He uses his many talents to share a universal sense of void, as he (and we) search for meaning in our short little lives.

Don’t miss Mark Strand at Butler University’s Visiting Writer’s Series, this Tuesday, April 13. Before this FREE Indianapolis event, head to the nearby Indianapolis cultural district, Broad Ripple Village, for a bite to eat. With so many Indianapolis restaurants and Indianapolis bars to choose from, there is something for everyone in Broad Ripple Village.

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Mark Strand
Tuesday, April 13 at 7:30 pm

Butler University
4600 Sunset Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46208