What Remains

Few, very few, collections of poetry have touched and inspired me as much as this single volume of poems -- and in particular, its great prose poem, 'The Monument.' And though I have read pleasurably and widely in poetry, I constantly have held Strand as one of the great originals -- a poet of such honesty, insight, unforced wit, pure clarity and beauty of language, and his inherent belief of how words can become magic and thrive on imagination and exploration of form. He even makes sadness a thing of strength, an opportunity for growth, and he makes acceptance the single action that challenges us to renewal. And weep or laugh out loud, his poems remind me of wha the best of poetry does: illumine us; urge us to ask questions of ourselves; help us listen more closely to the silences between words.

I think often of the first poem of his that I read, which led me to read all of his work: 'The Remains,' and its last thrilling and urgent line: "I empty myself of my life / and my life remains.'

I will never forget meeting him; though it was brief, he spoke to me with attention, and with real presence. He was a poet of many gifts -- and an extraordinary artist in collage -- but his main gifts were that of superb craft, a lack of pretense, and a real joy in his life; even at the end, he was in the throes of new love. His life, and his spirit, indeed, remains.