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Almost Invisible: Poems

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  329 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
From Pulitzer Prize–winner Mark Strand comes an exquisitely witty and poignant series of prose poems. Sometimes appearing as pure prose, sometimes as impure poetry, but always with Strand’s clarity and simplicity of style, they are like riddles, their answers vanishing just as they appear within reach. Fable, domestic satire, meditation, joke, and fantasy all come together ...more
Hardcover, 68 pages
Published March 13th 2012 by Knopf (first published 2012)
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Peycho Kanev
Apr 16, 2016 Peycho Kanev rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
A Banker in the Brothel of Blind Women

A banker strutted into the brothel of blind women. “I am a shepherd,” he announced, “and blow my shepherd’s pipe as often as I can, but I have lost my flock and feel that I am at a critical point in my life.” “I can tell by the way you talk,” said one of the women, “that you are a banker only pretending to be a shepherd and that you want us to pity you, which we do because you have stooped so low as to try to make fools of us.” “My dear,” said the banker to
Jim Coughenour
Jul 26, 2012 Jim Coughenour rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetryforliving
Mark Strand's surprising (after Blizzard of One) collection of prose poems starts off with an epigraph from Mr. Micawber ("something will turn up!") of David Copperfield. This is a signal to hold on to our sense of humor* as we read our way through some dark – but hardly bitter – reflections on the end of life, the end of talent, the ends of all kinds of things that open unexpectedly into dream corridors, or to gentle figura appearing at the edge of consciousness, rueful images of our distant se ...more
May 03, 2015 KarmA1966 rated it liked it
In working through Mark Stand's, "Almost Invisible" I found myself wanting to rename it, "The Bearable Heaviness of Nonbeing."

Thematically the poems make a powerful statement of a poet caught somewhere between night and day, between life and death, between consciousness and dreams.

From "The Enigma of the Infinitesimal"

"You've seen them at dusk, walking along the shore, seen them standing in doorways... Lovers of the in-between, they are neither here nor there, neither in nor out."

From "Ever So
Jul 21, 2012 Heather rated it liked it
Shelves: library-books, poetry
Almost Invisible consists almost entirely of paragraph-long prose poems—there's just one piece, the poem-within-a-poem of "Poem of the Spanish Poet," that deviates from that form at all. I like prose poems, generally, the way they sometimes could almost be called short-short stories, and I like these prose poems, the way that in bite-sized pieces they blend humor and nostalgia and uncertainty. I like the vagueness of some of these poems, like "Bury Your Face in Your Hands", with its images of wi ...more
Mar 03, 2014 Nicola rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 09, 2015 Esthër rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, read-in-2015
A los pies de Mark Strand

"Cada vez que pensaba en mi enfermedad oía el sonido melancólico de una viola. Cuando le describí mi enfermedad al médico, éste oyó el mismo sonido. "Debería guardarse su enfermedad para sí", me dijo. Un despejado día de verano salí afuera; algunos cuervos se juntaron a mi alrededor y guardaron silencio. Lo interpreté como un homenaje a la belleza oculta de mi enfermedad. Cuando se lo conté al médico, respondió: "Su enfermedad puede estar propagándose y podría arruinarl
Nov 23, 2012 Nan rated it liked it
All of these poems seemed to be about aging, the passage of time, the disappearance of man and memory. A few will haunt me ("The Emergency Room at Dusk", "Exhaustion at Sunset"), but most will vanish the moment I return this slim volume to the library.
Apr 05, 2012 Elise rated it really liked it
What can I say about Mark Strand that hasn't already been said? I admire his poetry for being simple and precise, with a dash of the unexpected, and the poems in his newest collection are no exception. When a poem leaves you simultaneously moved and unsettled, you know you are reading the work of a master, a master of language and imagery and voice, and even humor. As I made my way through "Almost Invisible," I stuck a post-it by my favorite poems, and by the end realized that I had stuck around ...more
Apr 17, 2012 Joel rated it it was amazing
Strand said, in the annotations for The Best of American Poetry 2011 that his next book will be a prose-poem collection. And so it is: his latest collection, Almost Invisible, is quite a departure from the Pulitzer-winning Blizzard of One. The signposts are clear; while that trademark meditative tone and the simplicity of Strand's diction are retained, the poet struggles to get out of his familiar "voice" or style and plays up instead elements borrowed from fiction and culled from fables.

The ve
John Pappas
Mar 22, 2012 John Pappas rated it liked it
Mark Strand contemplates death as a self-abnegating, other-creating force in 50 enigmatic, elliptical prose poems which flicker in and out of sight like Will-o'-Wisps on the edges of your vision. Structured as quasi-fables with no morals (or with the moral being that there is no moral), these self-effacing poems present the impossibility of life, love and knowing with glee and longing. On their own, each poem is like a quick sketch -- a wry joke, a half-remembered dream -- but taken as a whole t ...more
Patricia Murphy
May 27, 2014 Patricia Murphy rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Reminiscent, for me, of Edson and some Tate. A few, like “Provisional Eternity” feel more like aphorisms than prose poems.

Some of my favorite moments:

“The silent snow of thought melts before it has a chance to stick.”

“A rough sound was polished until it became a smoother sound, which was polished until it became music.”

“The empty heart comes home from a long day at the office.”

“His desperation is not my desperation.”

“‘I’m home,” said the husband. ‘Not again,’ said the wife.”
Pmalcpoet Pat Malcolm
Only one poem in this collection that I really enjoyed, Poem of the Spanish Poet. Although I have enjoyed prose poems in the past, these really don't seem to go anywhere. At least for me. I'm disappointed because Strand is a poet I like. A friend of mine from Wisconsin, Jack Lehman, himself a longtime writer and poet, has said that great poetry isn't really about our going through contortions to understand it, but for the poems to listen to us, and to speak to us for meaning. Simply put, these ...more
Aug 21, 2015 Tami rated it really liked it
This book is filled with prose poems. I felt most of Strands writing in this collection reflected upon aging, reflections about the life experienced by hmself. I enjoyed this collection of poems and found them inspiring to pick up writing poems once again for myself.
Filippo Giovacchini
Feb 13, 2016 Filippo Giovacchini rated it really liked it
Strand was a great poet I always read with great pleasure, nevertheless this collection waxes and wanes. Four stars because his writing is always elegant and clear and because "The Enigma of Infinitesimal" blew my mind.
False Millennium
Feb 28, 2015 False Millennium rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I had checked out four of Mark Strand's poetry books, to get stimulated and inspired to start writing my own again. With that said, I enjoy his work, and it did the trick.
Sep 30, 2014 Helen rated it it was amazing
Prose poems teetering very close to the edge of flash fiction. Humorous, sad, thought provoking, the pieces in this collection run the gamut of emotions and themes, held together by the thread of form rather than content. All very well written as one would expect from a former poet laureate.
Eli Brooke
Jun 26, 2013 Eli Brooke rated it really liked it
I memorized "Reasons for Moving" after a woman browsing next to me in a bookstore in Vermont read it aloud to her friend from one of his poetry collections which I subsequently bought when I was on vacation at age 17.

I read this straight through yesterday, twice over each and as lingeringly as I could on a stalled el train. As with all condensed and evocative pieces, will need to spend more time with them but particularly liked "Clarities of the Nonexistent," "The Everyday Enchantment of Music,
Aug 20, 2014 Gretchen rated it it was ok
I can't do this right now.
Sep 09, 2013 Lauren rated it it was ok
I really love Mark Strand; several of his volumes of poetry are on my favorites list, but this is not one of them. One or two of the prose poems included, I liked; a few more were enjoyable, but mostly I simply applaud the exercise of doing/trying something different. The form, I don't believe, brought out something wonderous in Strand's work and other volumes that seemed experimental were much more impactful, refreshing and profound.
Oct 26, 2012 David rated it liked it
What an interesting little collection. Very difficult to describe, you just need to read it, and go with it. Only one produced a staring-off-into-space moment upon completion, but only a few produced boredom. I don't know ... it's difficult to find the words to describe Strand's pieces, and difficult to find the words to describe my reaction to them. Good reading on a crisp fall evening.
Sep 01, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it
The form of these prose poems is similar to the stuff I've been writing lately. I wanted to give it five stars just for that but then I realized how sort of impossible it is to read or understand or make much of and I know I can do better than that. I can hide in prose poems (or flash fiction, if you prefer; not sure where the line falls) but there's more to it than that.
Daryl Muranaka
May 14, 2014 Daryl Muranaka rated it liked it
I like Mark Strand's poetry. In my MFA years, his Selected Poems was one of my favorite books. But I really had a hard time getting into this one. I'm not sure why. There were moments I really got into individual pieces, but I was strangely disconnected. I'm sad about that.
Aug 19, 2013 Jen rated it liked it
I love Strand and wanted to like this book more than I did. The prose poems echo his long time theme of "I am here, now I'm gone" but most of it left me flat. There were a couple of works that jolted me, and these I liked. But overall, as a collection of works, it was just okay.
Sep 13, 2013 Salvatore rated it liked it
I haven't read a poetry collection in a couple of years, and this was a prose poetry series that was humorous and interesting, with a couple of ah-ha moments over mind-blowing, mind-breaking ones. Minus the sentimental ones (come on!), the other poems are items I'd return to.
Aug 06, 2014 Sara rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, poetry
There are reasons that I do not read much poetry, and it is no fault of the poems themselves. It's just not one of the genres that I prefer, and this collection, though the poems are more akin to short (very short) stories, is not really my cup of tea.
William Lawrence
Dec 30, 2012 William Lawrence rated it did not like it
Really nothing special. No variety. I've read far better poetry by obscure poets with no name recognition. I wonder if any of these paragraphs would be published if they didn't have Strand' name on them. His earlier work is far better.
Jul 14, 2013 secondwomn rated it liked it
Shelves: school, poetry, 2013
For all their brevity, these poems are heavy and philosophical. Strand is a master of language but some of these felt too much about cleverness for me. I didn't quite feel that I was the reader being addressed. Titles are stellar.
Joseph Peterson
May 31, 2012 Joseph Peterson rated it it was amazing
Another extraordinary collection from Strand. The estrangement and dislocation that these poems signify, lies just beneath the glossy beautiful surface. Think Wallace Stevens refracted through a latter day Cheever.
Nov 25, 2012 Tiffany rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry

I've never really liked prose poems, so while these were good in spite of their form, they still fell flat for me. A few were notable but most were indistinguishable from the rest.
Jul 15, 2013 Ángel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Entre poemas y pequeños cuentos metafísicos. Mark Strand tiene algo que sólo unos pocos tienen. O quizá sólo lo tenga él. Sea mejor o peor el libro siempre tiene algo, algo especial.
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Mark Strand was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet, essayist, and translator. He was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1990. Since 2005, he has been a professor of English at Columbia University.

Strand also wrote children's books and art criticism, helped edit several poetry anthologies and translated Italian poet Rafael Alberti.

He is survived by a son
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“Those hours given over to basking in the glow of an imagined
future, of being carried away in streams of promise by a love or
a passion so strong that one felt altered forever and convinced
that even the smallest particle of the surrounding world was
charged with purpose of impossible grandeur; ah, yes, and
one would look up into the trees and be thrilled by the wind-
loosened river of pale, gold foliage cascading down and by the
high, melodious singing of countless birds; those moments, so
many and so long ago, still come back, but briefly, like fireflies
in the perfumed heat of summer night.”
“She stood beside me for years, or was it a moment? I cannot remember. Maybe I loved her, maybe I didn't. There was a house, and then no house. There were trees, but none remain. When no one remembers, what is there? You, whose moments are gone, who drift like smoke in the afterlife, tell me something, tell me anything.” 17 likes
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