March 5, 1998
Vol. 17, No. 11

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    Poet Mark Strand to join University faculty this spring

    Acclaimed national poet laureate, artist will teach in Committee on Social Thought

    By William Harms
    News Office

    Mark Strand, a distinguished poet whose work earned him the title of national poet laureate, will become Professor in the Committee on Social Thought, beginning in spring quarter.

    Strand was Regents Park Visiting Professor at the University in spring 1996 and was again a visiting scholar in spring 1997. He comes to the University from Johns Hopkins University, where he is the Elliot Coleman Professor of Poetry.

    In addition to being named national poet laureate in 1990, Strand has received numerous awards for his poetry, including the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Academy of American Poets in 1974, for The Story of Our Lives. He also received a Guggenheim fellowship in 1975 and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1987. He is the poetry editor of the New Republic and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

    Strand is the author of eight volumes of poetry, including Sleeping with One Eye Open (1964), Selected Poems (1980) and The Continuous Life (1990). His translations include The Owl's Insomnia, a selection of Rafael Alberti's poems, and Traveling in the Family, a selection of Carlos Drummond de Andrade's poems. He has written several children's books and edited several anthologies, including Another Republic, which he coedited with Charles Simic. He has also published numerous articles and essays on painting and photography as well as three books on painting: The Art of the Real, William Bailey and Hopper.

    Nathan Tarcov, Professor and Chairman of the Committee on Social Thought, said the appointment brings to the faculty a person of remarkable ability.

    "Mark Strand is not only a great American writer, but also a gifted teacher, a profound reader of literature, a serious painter and art critic, and a colleague deeply committed to the pedagogical and intellectual enterprise of the Committee on Social Thought," Tarcov said.

    During spring quarter, Strand will teach the course "Strange Fiction," which will explore -- through a reading of Kafka's Metamorphosis, Beckett's Molloy and Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities -- the philosophical nature of the belief elicited by fiction. In autumn quarter, he will teach a course on Kierkegaard with Jonathan Lear, Professor in Philosophy and Social Thought.

    Tarcov said Strand's previous teaching experiences as a visiting professor at Chicago were "an enormous success, including a seminar on Wallace Stevens that inspired students, a spellbinding lecture on the painting of Edward Hopper, and a moving reading of his own poetry. He impressed colleagues as an original intellect and an incisive interlocutor on just about any topic."

    In spring 1997, Strand taught an equally successful seminar on recent American poetry, Tarcov said.

    "He is not intimidated by disciplinary boundaries, conventional orthodoxies, or theoretical dogmas," Tarcov said. "His intellectual breadth and boldness, along with his wide interests in literature and art and his willingness to engage colleagues and students in social and historical inquiry make him an ideal member of the Committee on Social Thought."

    Strand's classes have appealed to a wide cross-section of the University, attracting graduate students throughout the social sciences and humanities, as well as College students and students from the professional schools, Tarcov said.

    Strand received his A.B. from Antioch College, his B.F.A. from Yale and his M.A. from the University of Iowa. Beginning in 1962, he taught at various universities and colleges around the country, including Columbia, Yale, Princeton and Harvard, before joining the faculty at the University of Utah in 1981. He was Distinguished Professor at Utah from 1986 to 1994, when he joined Johns Hopkins as the Elliot Coleman Professor.