Thursday, August 7, 2008

Kay Ryan Begins Reign as Poet Laureat

2nd\NE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix


By PATRICIA COHEN\New York Times

When Kay Ryan was a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, the poetry club rejected her application; she was perhaps too much of a loner, she recalls. Now Ms. Ryan is being inducted into one of the most elite poetry clubs around. She is to be named the country’s poet laureate on Thursday.

Known for her sly, compact poems that revel in wordplay and internal rhymes, Ms. Ryan has won a carriage full of poetry prizes for her funny and philosophical work, including awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and in 2004, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, worth $100,000.

Poets, editors, critics and academics around the country offered advice to James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress, about whom to choose to succeed Charles Simic as the nation’s 16th poet laureate, who was appointed 2007. Ms. Ryan’s work has “this quality of simplicity; it’s highly accessible poetry,” Dr. Billington said. “She takes you through little images to see a very ordinary thing or ordinary sentiment in a more subtle and deeper way.”

Ms. Ryan likes to take familiar images and clich├ęs and reincarnate them in a wholly original form. “The Other Shoe” reads:

Oh if it were
only the other
shoe hanging
in space before
joining its mate.

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