And a poet for Sunday

To follow on from Saturday’s poetry, here’s a poet for Sunday.

Kay Ryan is the new poet laureate of the United States. I’ve read some of her work, and I think I like it best when I hear her read it; poems, like play scripts and song lyrics, are sometimes impenetrable to me on the page. I think they are less like fiction and more like music for me, that I rely on the human engine behind them to build the bridge between us.

I like Ryan for poet laureate. She’s plain-spoken and real. She makes poetry that teases out complicated human truths from simple things. She writes about the beauty of the natural world and that’s something I think we need right now. Her poems are often very compact, with just a few syllables on each line so that it looks like the poem is sliding down the page… about which Ryan says:

I like it because it is the most dangerous shape. If your line is about three words long, nearly every word is on one edge or the other. You can’t hide anything. Any crap is going to show.
— Kay Ryan, talking about writing her poetry

That quote is part of this article on Ryan’s personal history and career, and here’s an extensive analysis of her poetry.

I’ve been writing this post about poetry while drinking a cup of tea and listening to Nine Inch Nails, which seems somehow exactly right. The brain likes to play… I hope your day brings you some similar small pleasures.

3 thoughts on “And a poet for Sunday”

  1. Thanks for the post on the admirable Kay Ryan. I am chagrined that the first time I read one of her poems was when she was made poet laureate! She’s right about one thing-cliches last because they contain a grain of truth about experience, even if we groan. It’s absolutely appropriate that she teaches remedial English. Perhaps someone could teach remedial ethics or remedial politics. Anyway, again, thanks.

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