Mark Strand was born in 1934 in Summerside, Prince Edward Island in Canada. He spent much of his childhood in Halifax, Montreal, New York, Philadelphia and Cleveland. As a teenager he lived in Columbia, Peru and Mexico. Upon graduating from Antioch College, he received a BFA from Yale where he studied painting with Joseph Albers.
Turning from painting to poetry “wasn’t a conscious thing,” he says. “I woke up and found that’s what I was doing. I don’t think these kinds of lifetime obsessions are arrived at rationally.” Strand taught at Mt. Holyoke College in 1967 and at Brooklyn College from 1970 to 1972, then held visiting professorships at various places, among them Columbia, the University of Virginia, Yale, and Harvard. Strand was the Elliott Coleman Professor of Poetry at johns Hopkins University, where he taught in the Writing Seminars until 1998. He now teaches at the University of Chicago as a member of the Committee on Social Thought.
His writings include eight books of poetry and critical art volumes on Edward Hopper and William Bailey. He has received fellowships from the Ingram Merrill, Rockefeller, and Guggenheim Foundations and from the National Endowment for the Arts. He received a MacArthur award in 1987 and in 1990 was chosen to succeed Howard Nemerov as Poet Laureate of the United States. In 1992 he won the Bobbitt Prize for Poetry, in 1993 Yale’s Bollingen Prize for Poetry, and in 1999 the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Strand maintains his roots in the visual arts and continues to make prints regularly.