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Blizzard of One: Poems Paperback – February 8, 2000

4.2 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Mark Strand's Blizzard of One features a collage of his own devising on the cover: an expanse of red and blue geometric planes, broken up by the appearance of an ice floe on the imaginary horizon. The image invites the viewer to fill up the surrounding emptiness. So too does the white space surrounding Strand's taut, spare, metaphysical verse. The quest for the single lyric's integrity and wholeness sets Strand apart from those poets for whom the provisional is everything. And this is an artist who never shies away from the absolute: indeed, he manages to make each poem in the book recapitulate the beginning and the end.

There is a terrible atmosphere of finality and doom to these poems. In two splendid villanelles, for example, Strand pays homage to De Chirico, and the tension of lines like these brings with it a strange shiver of pleasure:

Boredom sets in first, and then despair.
One tries to brush it off. It only grows.
Something about the silence of the square.

Something is wrong; something about the air,
Its color; about the light, the way it glows.
Boredom sets in first, and then despair.

Strand continues to acknowledge his debt to Wallace Stevens, while taking the impulse to a further level of abstraction: "Even now we seem to be waiting / For something whose appearance would be its vanishing." Yet he can also deal lightly and self-mockingly with serious concerns: "Now that the great dog I worshipped for years / Has become none other than myself, I can look within / And bark, and I can look at the mountains down the street / And bark at them as well...." No poet has been able to make more out of a minimalist aesthetic than Mark Strand. He strives for elegance and masterful brevity, and whether he's working his ominous or light-fingered register, his formalism is never precious, always an agent of necessity. --Mark Rudman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Since Yeats linked the "labor to be beautiful" with the work of poetry, no poet has taken the link more to heartAor made handsomer, more stylish poems out of mirror-gazingAthan former Poet Laureate Strand (Dark Harbor, etc.). Whether in the charming monologues of "Five Dogs," the moving elegy "In Memory of Joseph Brodsky" or the dream-memoir of his social circle, "The Delirium Waltz," Strand insists on the failure of poetry to preserve our reflections or to reanimate the ghosts of memory and loss. "Time slips by," he writes in "The Next Time," "our sorrows do not turn into poems,/ And what is invisible stays that way. Desire has fled,/ Leaving only a trace of perfume in its wake,/ And so many people we love have gone." The frank, elegiac brio and easy swing of lines like these have always distinguished Strand's work, and they have never sounded more seductive. Crowded with tributes to friends like Jorie Graham, Octavio Paz and the painter William Bailey, this wonderful, varied new collection also shows a wit reminiscent of John AshberyAprivate, hard to pin down, addicted to deferrals and dying falls. If there is something scandalous in Strand's gorgeous, unabashed nostalgia or erotic melancholy, the scandal is how inescapable these modes remainAfor us and for one of our most deeply enjoyable poets.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 55 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (February 8, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375701370
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375701375
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #566,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As often happens, I am lead to a book of poetry by reading a poem in a magazine and then seeking out the volume in which the poem appears. Often, it takes a few years before the book appears but usually it is worth it. Certainly that is the case with this collection of poems by Mark Strand.

The poem that drew me to Strand is "A Piece of the Storm." This poem is eleven brilliant lines that, in its imagery and complexity, has incredible emotional impact. It is certainly one of the best poems I've read in the past ten years. I'm tempted to quote it in its entirely (as I do to friends) in this review but I'll resist the temptation. Consider just this one line that gives title to the book: "A snowflake, a blizzard of one, weightless, entered your room..." Notice the juxtaposition of descriptions of the snowflake. It is a blizzard, yet it is weightless. And it is the heavy force of this snowflake that leads the poem to its emotional epiphany. Needless to say, I will be turning the lines of the poem over in my mind for years to come.

As for the rest of this slim volume, if it doesn't quite live up to the promise of "A Piece of the Storm," there is much here that is worthwhile, particularly in the first half. "Untitled," "The Next Time," "The Night, The Porch," and "Some Last Words" are all excellent. The last two sections I found much less interesting though the second part of "What It Was" is quite powerful.

There are still those of us that believe in the power of poetry and believe there are still poets writing today worth reading. Mark Strand is proof of that.
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Format: Paperback
I can read and re-read this book of poetry any number of times and I hope to do just that.

Like the snowflake in the title poem ("A snowflake, a blizzard of one, weightless, entered your room.."), these poems enter your consciousness lightly but stay there, their weight leaving you moved and you, having read them, are now richer for having lived through the experience.

I liked many of the poems in this collection but want to specially call out a few that are amongst the best of Strand that I have read - 'The Next Time', 'A Suite of Appearances', 'What it was', 'Some Last Words' and the poem celebrating the Russian-American poet: 'In Memory of Joseph Brodsky':

"What remains of the self
unwinds into a vanishing light, and thins like dust, and heads
to a place where knowing and nothing pass into each other,
and through...

...

What remains of the self unwinds and unwinds, for none
Of the boundaries holds - neither the shapeless one between us,
Nor the one that falls between your body and your voice....

...

What remains of the self unwinds
Beyond us, for whom time is only a measure of meanwhile
And the future no more than et cetera et cetera ... but fast and
forever."

With lines like the above and also "how could I not be only myself, this dream of flesh, from moment to moment?" (Old Man Leaves Party), he writes about the self (and the sense of loss that negates this self) in ways that no other modern poet! Speaking of loss, read some of these excerpted lines from his various poems. What a celebration of life!

"Take time off before the world out there burns up. Life should be more than the body's weight working itself from room to room...
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
I am among the many who are lucky enough to have Mark Strand as a Professor. That's the first reason why I bought this book--to learn more about him as a poet as well as getting my feet wet in the pool of poetry. The poems in this book open my mind to a different way of looking at poetry. It also offers me a better understanding of the humble man who presents lectures at my school every Monday afternoon. It is without a doubt that Mark Strand deserved the Pulitzer Prize in 1999. The poems in this book are profoundly simple yet so complex. They offer so many ways of interpretations, and I don't think even Strand can say that there is one absolute way to interpret his poems. He has once told me while I walked him to his car that: "Poetry is the celebration of language, and only through the language can one discover its meaning." Well, that's how one should read Mark Strand's poetry--indulge one's self in that peculiar world of languages.
I encourage you to read on the other works of Mark Strand because they are the essence of the 20th century poetry. In this selection, "Old Man Leaves Party" is my favorite. Hopefully, you too can find the one poem that mystifies you in this selection. Enjoy!
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Format: Paperback
Blizzard of One is a surprisingly witty, smart collection of poems. This is the first collection of poems I have read by Mr. Strand and I was delighted with the book. The poems approach everyday topics, and pushes past the ordinary. Blizzard of One draws on everyone's fears of death and suggests that death is not what is to be feared, not living life is. Blizzard of One is a wonderful collection and I would recommend it to all with even a slight interest in poetry.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are poems in this collection that contain lines that you'll find yourself quoting. Yes, they really are that good. I can see someone who didn't particularly like poetry liking this collection. Modern poetry is tough, and if you 'grew up' with the more traditional forms, much modern poetry leaves you pretty dry. These poems don't. Buy the book.
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