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

Spring Concerts: Augustana and Band of Skulls

Pretty much the only two reasons to be inside in the spring just happened in Salt Lake City the last couple of weeks. Augustana and Band of Skulls both showed up in town for much-needed reappearances. These are two of my favorite bands, as is readily apparent to anyone who has read much of my previous concert reviews, so I’ll spare you the repetition of why they are two of the greatest bands ever and just get straight to the facts: If you don’t go see these bands you are a moron. Continue reading

Best Episodes

Are there episodes of your favorite shows that really stand out in your mind? I was just recently rewatching Mad Men and the episode “The Suitcase” (season 4, episode 7) came up. That is truly a perfect episode, right down to the song that plays over the closing credits. If you knew nothing else about the show other than that episode, you would still recognize it as a truly exemplary television series. Continue reading

SYTYCD, Season X

Season 10 of this show is under way and the top 20 have been chosen. This year’s contestants are maybe not my favorite group ever, but (as per usual) they include three dancers from my home state, which makes it fun to watch. Interestingly, whereas last season included two excellent ballroom dancers from Utah County that happened to be blonde and female and a bit hard to tell apart, this year’s group includes two excellent ballroom dancers from Utah County that happen to be brunette and female and a bit hard to tell apart. What are the odds? Strangely, one of this duo of ballroom babes, Brittany Cherry, was never shown on any episode prior to showing up in the top 20. Conspiracy? You tell me. Continue reading