Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Mark Strand's Dark Harbor

I just got a rejection in the mail for my latest batch of poems, which is a bit disappointing, but now at least they are free to be sent somewhere else.

A few days ago, I purchased a copy of Mark Strand's book Dark Harbor: A Poem, published in 1993 by Alfre A Knopf, Inc. It begins with a poem entitled "Proem," a poem that serves as a preface to the book. In it, the speaker sets off on a journey, confident of "the way" and his desire to follow it. He does not reach his destination, but that does not bother him. It is the journey itself that allows him to "breathe," to say to himself, "This is the life." Let's use this as encouragement to keep following our poetic paths, eschewing discouragement and negativity, and enjoying even the rejections that may often appear disguised as obstacles.


"This is my Main Street," he said as he started off
That morning, leaving the town to the others,
Entering the high-woods tipped in pink

By the rising sun but still dark where he walked.
"This is the way," he continued as he watched
For the great space that he felt sure

Would open before him, a stark sea over which
The turbulent sky would drop the shadowy shapes
Of its song, and he would move his arms

And begin to mark, almost as a painter would,
The passages of greater and lesser worth, the silken
Tropes and calls to this or that, coarsely conceived,

Echoing and blasting all around. He would whip them
Into shape. Everything would have an edge. The burning
Will of weather, blowing overhead, would be his muse.

"This is the life," he said, as he reached the first
Of many outer edges to the sea he sought, and he buttoned
His coat, and turned up his collar, and began to breathe.

Mark Strand


Glittermuse said...

Amy, It was a pleasant and happy surprise to have you stop by to visit.

I just looked up "mono no aware", which is a beautiful and certanly universal sentiment of poets. (contary to the original belief of the Japanese)

This poem "proem" is similar in it's universality for poetic spirits.
And it ends with the sage words "he began to breathe", a beginning of all beginnings.

Thanks for fielding this. Best wishes to you on your own poetic path.

Travis J. Morgan said...

Who are you sending your poems to?

MB said...

I've been told one should expect rejections. I am not sure that is ever easy to do. Well, maybe by Bob Dylan but not by me.

I appreciate this particular poem today, and the slant you gave it. Useful for me, too. Keep the faith, Amy, forge ahead! The path is always uneven.

Amy said...


Yes, the concept of mono no awarewas initially used to distinguish a "unique" aspect of Japanese culture--as epitmoized by the hailu form--something that set them apart from everyone else. As you say, however, many poets explore this experience of transience.

Amy said...

I just read my last post. Please forgive my incredibly bad typing. I even proofread it! Clearly, I need to finish my espresso before I start working.


Thanks for the encouragement. I can always use it.


If you want to check out one journal I submitted to, you can read my work at eratio.

Anonymous said...

I am not very good with giving encouragements. All I want to say is “Don’t give up Amy.” :)

iamnasra said...

Hi there I came thorugh

Im glad I followed your path..its amazing stuff u have over here...

I hope to visit you again

ericlow said...

rejections are not always a bad thing. like veggies in a balanced diet. haha. :). perhaps the editor replied with a note explaining why, those can be pretty useful.

Billy said...

i know how it is about the rejections. have gotten my fair share. but i keep on. am like self publishing my work and hustling it on the web and on the streets. i wish you luck in the future

Danny said...

Dear Amy,

Thanks for sharing the "Proem", it reminds me of my struggle to be creative in my non-creative moments.

I was turned down several times by galleries and local publications for my art and literary writings. In the end, the only redeeming factor I received from some of those who turned me down, "I missed your works...", as we tossed our glasses of wine at the opening of my show (a small world).

Amy said...

Hi everybody,

iamnasra and crywolf: welcome, and thanks for stopping by.

Billy: thanks for the encouragement, and good luck with the "hustling."

Danny: Yea! Haven't heard from you for a bit. Hope your show was great!