Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Kay Ryan, Poet
Ryan, a lifelong Californian and graduate of UCLA, was recently named our 16th Poet Laureate. [Ryan, on right, with Emily Warn at a poetry conference. Photo: Star Black,Flickr]
It was only after this announcement that I became familiar with her writing. What I discovered was someone who is unafraid of the most commonplace as the basis for wonder. A friend e-mailed me "Home to Roost," which begins:
are circling and
blotting out the
day. The sun is
bright, but the
chickens are in
These charming first lines, with the almost childlike rhyme of day/way soon unfurls to offer a metaphorical commentary open to various interpretations. See the entirety of "Home to Roost" and several other of her poems at this PBS poetry page.
Ryan lives in Marin County, where she is also a mountain biker, so you could perhaps have a sudden encounter with her on Mount Tam. She admits to preferring a hermetic life, and is now forced to deal with publicity and perhaps more appearances than she would prefer.
Ryan has been published in many literary journals and magazines. Her collections of poetry are: Dragon Acts to Dragon Ends. Fairfax, CA: Taylor Street Press, 1983.
Strangely Marked Metal. Providence, RI: Copper Beech Press, 1985.
Flamingo Watching. Providence, RI: Copper Beech Press, 1994.
Elephant Rocks, New York: Grove Press, 1997.
Say Uncle. New York: Grove Press, 2000.
Niagara River. New York: Grove Press, 2005.