In celebration of nothing : solipsism, subjectivity, and the mythology of self in the poetry of Mark Strand
Leinfelder, Dawn W.
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The postmodern poet Mark Strand (b. 1934) explores the problematic relationship of self and reality in poems that both discover and create the methodology by which humans engage in the process of self-construction. From his earliest book, Sleeping with One Eye Open (1964), to his latest, Dark Harbor (1993), Strand develops his awareness of this process in poems that consider the construction and definition of the self from the vantage point of alienation and fragmentation to the mystical realm of transcendence and unity. The issues of the self as subject that are developed in the writings of Derrida (the deconstructed, decentered self; the undefinable, unreachable origin) and Lacan (lack-desire, subject-object, self-Other, self-other, absence-presence) inform Strand's poetic discourse. His poetry focuses on the relationship the self (in both its physical and psychological aspects) has with nature, other people, and itself (the conscious and the unconscious). Strand stresses the tensions, as well as the roles of nothingness, loss, mourning, and death, in the process of poetic and psychic creation. In addition to the philosophical consideration of the bifurcated psyche and the resultant binaries such as subject and object, conscious and unconscious, being and nonbeing, Strand's poetry demonstrates an elegance of technical, intellectual, and emotional grace in its exploration of the enigma of the self.