03 January 2006

What the fuck is with Mark Strand?

I was compiling poems by various poets to bring to Chile, and I stumbled upon something I'm surprised I'd missed before.

I have long admired the poetry of Mark Strand, especially the earlier poetry, and especially when I was young. In one of his early books, he has a poem called "The Dirty Hand," which is "after Carlos Drummond de Andrade." This poem blew me away when I was a teenager -- "My hand is dirty. / I must cut it off."

So I was flipping through the Charles Simic/Mark Strand anthology Another Republic, and in the section of poems by de Andrade, there it is -- "The Dirty Hand." Under de Andrade's name and "translated" by Mark Strand.

Same poem: in Strand's book it's under Strand's name, and in the anthology it's under de Andrade's name.

What gives?

Over and out.


At January 04, 2006 11:37 am , Anonymous rox. said...

perhaps it's a "found" poem...strand looked in a book by de andrade, and there it was. or perhaps the poem is really by borges, and he dreamed them both to write the same poem that created this conundrum for stu. whatever the case, the moral of the story is: soap and water over violence.

At January 04, 2006 3:34 pm , Anonymous chris said...

keeping in mind of course that a lot of stuff people 'find' is stolen (thinking of a time when when one of my personal emails was published by ECW under someone else's name). Sampling is simple, translating is fine (as long as the poet doesn't bore me with the process details), and stealing's a steal. Sounds like what he did was really cheap. Strand's a thief. Arrest that shoplifter.

At January 06, 2006 11:25 am , Blogger gary barwin said...

I just "found" this poem by Strand, but will include it in my new book under my name.......


in the hotel of non-existence
the VACANCY sign flashes

I’ve a room there
and a broken TV channeling
only me
the famous show of no-shows

in the coffee shop
they don’t serve
so I order
a cheese sandwich

the waitress
brings the sandwich
to another table

and I say
in a cheese sandwich
I am the absence of ham

without a cheese sandwich
there’s no proof that
I am

and she says
you’ve been here since
before you were born
and what’s worse
you’ve always been
a lousy tipper

so I slap myself down on the table
an ostentatious 15% on the cheese sandwich dollar
I don’t leave
I never leave
for though life is uncertain
and my room belongs to another
I know that in my heart of hearts
in life’s only sandwich
I am
everpresent and eternal
the existential ham

At January 06, 2006 4:22 pm , Blogger hugh said...

I think "after" leaves quite a lot of leeway. One poem can be after another like a cop running down the street with his gun out is after a criminal, or like Elizabeth II is after Elizabeth I.

Gary, I like that poem, but I'm pretty sure it was written by the absence of Strand.

At January 07, 2006 3:13 pm , Anonymous rox. said...

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At December 19, 2009 2:56 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the poem was originally in a different language, and Strand translated it into English, then he could claim it.
When a someone translates, they can't do it directly because words connotate different meanings in different languages. They have to choose the precise wording, as if they're writing their own poem. It's not "stealing" (as long as he had permission, which I'm sure he did).
But if I misunderstood what you were saying, then sorry...


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