From Pulitzer Prize–winner Mark Strand comes an exquisitely witty and poignant series of prose poems. Sometimes appearing as pure prose, sometimes as impure poetry, but always with Strand’s clarity and simplicity of style, they are like riddles, their answers vanishing just as they appear within reach. Fable, domestic satire, meditation, joke, and fantasy all come together in what is arguably the liveliest, most entertaining book that Strand has yet written.
Strand s 13th collection comprises a series of short prose poems that borrow elements of fables as well as more modern forms of fiction, all with the grim turns and deadpan beauty for which Strand, who won the Pulitzer and is among the most famous American poets, is known. In one poem a man returns to the country from which he had started many years before to find, in his childhood playground, dust-filled shafts of sunlight struck the tawny leaves of trees and withered hedges. Empty bags littered the grass. Another waxes nostalgic about nostalgia itself, those hours given over to basking in the glow of an imagined future, of being carried away in streams of promise by a love or a passion so strong that one felt altered forever and convinced that the smallest particle of the surrounding world was charged with a purpose of impossible grandeur. A poem called In the Afterlife asks, When no one remembers, what is there? These are poems of failing light, meditations on death s nearness that do nothing to stave it off. This is a short book, but Strand s many fans won t be disappointed.