Breath and Being in the Poetry of Mark Strand

NOTE: This is an essay I wrote as an undergraduate at the University of Utah almost thirty years ago. I am republishing it here as a remembrance of my favorite professor, Mark Strand, upon the occasion of his passing.

Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live… and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood up upon their feet.

-Ezekiel 37:9, 10

An overwhelming presence of the invisible pervades much of Mark Strand’s poetry, a presence which is manifested as both a life force and as a vital catalyst of self. This presence is breath, an image which recurs repeatedly in Strands work and seems to stand for evidence of the existence and continuation of life, a vehicle or impetus for speech, a shared, universal spirit, and a perpetually pent-up possibility of redemption and renewal. Continue reading

Euro TV: The Fall Series 2

By gomez

The Fall made its much anticipated return to British TV screens last night. Although 18 months later, Series 2 picks up just 10 days after the events of Series 1. We find serial killer Paul Spector unable to stay away from Belfast and DSI Stella Gibson unable to leave.

As Series 1 progressed, the similarities between Spector and Gibson became more apparent as they were slowly drawn into the minds of one another. But the 18 month/10 day hiatus seems to have disrupted the connection between the two and so begins the slow-burn ultra noir drama that seems to fit perfectly with a British damp November evening.

I would strongly recommend this to fans of Gillian Anderson. I have nothing really to compare this with as I was never an X-filer, but she really is superb. And though he has much less screen time, as in the first series John Lynch as Gibson’s supervising officer plays his role almost flawlessly — an intriguing mix of authority, awkwardness, lust and cowardice.

I’m looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.

Euro TV: Hinterland

The British appetite for Scandinavian noir obviously had TV producers looking around our fair isle to see where best to translate something like The Killing into a British setting. The answer was obvious: Wales, and not just Wales but deepest, windiest, craziest Wales. And so we have Hinterland or Y Gwyll if you prefer things in Welsh.

The first episode has all the necessary tropes: a grumpy detective transplanted from the city to remote Aberystwyth; a grisly murder; a creepy children’s home. Nothing remarkable really, but boy is it atmospheric, all Welsh bog and gloomy people. The truly remarkable thing is that the series was filmed twice, once in Welsh and once in English, the same actors delivering lines in both languages. The English language version ends up being bi-lingual anyway as befits this most Welsh corner of Wales.

Available on BBC and S4C in the UK and Netflix streaming in the US.