Mark Strand, prize-winning poet, dies in NY at 80

By Hillel Italie, AP

NEW YORK–Mark Strand, a Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. poet laureate widely praised for his concentrated, elegiac verse, has died. He was 80.

Strand, whose works were translated into more than 30 languages, died Saturday morning at his daughter’s New York home from liposarcoma that had spread throughout his body, just weeks after entering hospice care, said his daughter, Jessica Strand.

��He was a funny, elegant, generous and brilliant man,�� she said of her father. ��A man who lived to work and to be with his friends and the people he loved.��

A distinctive presence even at the end of his life, with his lean build, white hair and round glasses, Strand received numerous honors, including the Pulitzer in 1999 for ��Blizzard of One,�� a gold medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a National Book Award nomination this fall for ��Collected Poems.�� He was appointed U.S. poet laureate for 1990-91, although he did not count his time in Washington among his great achievements.

��It’s too close to the government. It’s too official. I don’t believe that poetry should be official,�� he told The Associated Press in 2011. ��There are poets who aspire to such positions; I never did.��

Author of more than a dozen books of poetry and several works of prose, Strand was haunted by absence, loss and passage of time from the beginning of his career, sometimes peering just beyond the contents of the page and wondering what, if anything, was out there. Some of his most famous lines appear in ��Keeping Things Whole,�� a poem from ��Sleeping With One Eye Open,�� his 1964 debut:

In a field

I am the absence

of field.

This is

always the case.

Wherever I am

I am what is missing.

Strand also wrote children’s books and art criticism, helped edit several poetry anthologies and translated the Italian poet Rafael Alberti. He was a committed doubter, even about poetry. He went through occasional periods when he stopped writing verse and once quarreled with his publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, because he considered his 2012 collection ��Almost Invisible�� to be prose, not poetry.