kellyrfineman (kellyrfineman) wrote,

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Kay Ryan -- a Poetry Friday post

There is much to celebrate today. After all, it is Poetry Friday, and the party is here. I hope those of you stopping by for the occasion will leave your links below in Mr. Linky. But also a big deal today? The announcement of a new United States poet laureate. As of this fall, the post will be occupied by Kay Ryan, a "modern hermit" who lives in Fairfax, California, where she teaches remedial English at the college level on a part-time basis.

Ryan was a rather unknown quantity to me, so I nipped over to the Poetry Foundation website, where I found 21 poems plus an article by her. One that totally spoke to me was "All Shall Be Restored", which begins with these wonderful lines:

The grains shall be collected
from the thousand shores
to which they found their way,
and the boulder restored,
and the boulder itself replaced
in the cliff, and likewise
the cliff shall rise
or subside until the plate of earth
is without fissure. Restoration
knows no half measure.

I was also blown away by "The Late Worm" and "Great Thoughts" and, well, pretty much all of what I read. I can't really quote from them too well because Ms Ryan is known for her conciseness. Which is to say that to quote from them would be to quote many of them in full, for which I do not have permission. Nevertheless, I hope you'll pop over and read some of her stuff.

Upon receiving the call from the Library of Congress, Ryan claimed that her first thought was "I can't have that many overdue books." Her influences include William Carlos Williams, Phillip Larkin and John Donne. She likes brief poems, short lines, and poems packed with metaphor, but she has worked hard to remain humble. In an interview with PBS's News Hour in June of 2006, Ryan
talked about her upbringing:

"In our home, something like being a poet would be thought of as putting on airs," Ryan told the NewsHour in June 2006. "It would be embarrassingly pretentious, and educated, and snobbish. And so that, as a writer, I've always been very sensitive to not being pretentious and to being sure that I didn't put on airs. I mean, it's all right to be intelligent and to use every possible aspect of language, but never to be pompous." There's an article about her appointment on the PBS site.

Ryan's appointment was announced by Dr. James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress, who had this to say about Ryan's work: "Kay Ryan is a distinctive and original voice within the rich variety of contemporary American poetry. She writes easily understandable short poems on improbable subjects. Within her compact compositions there are many surprises in rhyme and rhythm and in sly wit pointing to subtle wisdom."

And now, I hope you'll all leave your links. Those of you who don't have recognized identities here at LiveJournal will be temporarily screened in the comments, but the beauty of Mr. Linky is that folks will be able to see your stuff right away. I just thought I'd give the heads up on the comment thing, as I'll be daytripping for pretty much all of the day.

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Tags: poet laureate, poetry, poetry friday, ryan

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