The Minute I Saw Mark Strand Trending on Twitter I Knew He was Dead.

“Pain is filtered in the poem so that it becomes finally, in the end, pleasure.” – Mark Strand.

I got my first dose of Strand’s poetry last year in Intro to Creative Writing. Soon after I checked out my campus library’s copy of Dark Harbor. After that I was hooked. I ended up hoarding the campus library’s copy of Dark Harbor and Almost Invisible. This semester I did a report on Mark Strand and his Pulitzer Prize winning Blizzard of One. My teacher is super liberal, so I comfortably made the comment that he was old as balls for a laugh…I know it was wrong. I regret it. But, you see, I wanted to actually email him at the email address on Columbia University faculty website for the sake of perhaps probing that brain or being heartbroken by never receiving a reply, but I will never have the chance to do either. I feel selfish, but I am heartbroken. I wanted to meet him and tell him how much his poetry meant to me. I wanted him to teach me. I wanted to go to Columbia for graduate school with the naive hope he’d still be teaching in 2017 and be taught by him.

I have spent a good deal in the infinitesimal time since I I found out about his death gathering up as many poems from fellow fans on Twitter as I could. I hope to purchase every book. Even the latest Collected Poems with the unfitting cover. I also plan on keeping his words more closer to heart than ever before.

Rest in peace, Mark Strand.

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Today is my birthday.

The funniest picture I have in my considerable sized collection of pictures of me crying.
The funniest picture I have in my considerable-sized collection of pictures of me crying.

I am 20.Hello 20, goodbye any hope of being a cool teenager. Anyway, I am celebrating it the best way I know how: music. I have created a playlist of twenty songs, one song for every year. Some of the decisions were difficult, but most of the songs in the playlist are songs I can explicitly remember listening to in the corresponding year, or (in the case of precognitive years) it is highly likely I heard the song that year. I also made it a rule that I could not use the same musician or band more than once (otherwise the Killers would be on a lot more often. With songs after 2000, the decisions were based on what song from that year meant the most to me that year.

It is as follows

1994: “Lightning Crashes” by Live

1995: “Waterfalls” by TLC

1996: “Tonight, Tonight” by Smashing Pumpkins

1997: “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly

1998: “Sex and Candy” by Marcy Playground

1999: “Learn to Fly” by Foo Fighters

2000: “I’m Like a Bird” by Nelly Furtado

2001: “Drops of Jupiter” by Train

2002: “Just Like a Pill” by Pink

2003: “Only One” by Yellowcard

2004: “Float On” by Modest Mouse

2005: “Mr. Brightside” by the Killers

2006: “Unwritten” by Natasha Beddingfield

2007: “The (After) Life of the Party” by Fall Out Boy

2008: “I Will Possess Your Heart” by Death Cab for Cutie

2009: “Lovers in Japan” by Coldplay

2010: “Bulletproof” by La Roux

2011: “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People

2012: “Easy Way Out” by Gotye

2013: “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons

2014: “Graceless” by the National

I listen to these songs and I can think back to listening them many years before. I can think back to the way I was when I listened to them. I can picture playing in my backyard as a kid with the nineties music playing. I can picture dancing to “Mr. Brightside” and I can picture sitting in a car, recording “Unwritten” onto my PDA by holding it up to the radio. It’s stupefying. I can remember the dreams and thoughts of the version of me I associate with those songs. To think I thought that way. To think I dreamed that. To think that it either wasn’t that long ago or it actually was a long time ago.

Spotify