Mark Strand

On this date in 1934, poet Mark Strand was born on Prince Edward Island, Canada. Strand was raised wary of religion, due to his atheist father who shared with him stories of heretics burned at the stake for their ideas. Strand was encouraged to pursue art by his mother, who was a painter. He attended Antioch College and Yale University, where he studied painting. After years of instruction, he realized that he was following the wrong career path and started studying 19th-century poetry. Soon after he received a master’s from the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop.

Upon graduation, Strand taught at a number of universities, including Yale, Princeton and Harvard. He also held a position as Professor of Social Thought at the University of Chicago until 2005. Strand was the author of more than a dozen poetry books and several works of prose. His writings include “Sleeping With One Eye Open” (1964), “Reasons for Moving” (1968), “Darker” (1970), “The Story of Our Lives” (1973) and “Blizzard of One” (1999), which won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

He died of liposarcoma at age 80 in Brooklyn, N.Y., when his daughter Jessica told The Guardian, “We weren’t religious people, but we worshipped at the foot of culture. He was always an artist.” (D. 2014)

Freedom From Religion Foundation