Kay Ryan was the sixteenth United States Poet Laureate, from 2008-2010. Her work has drawn comparisons to Emily Dickinson, Marianne Moore, and Elizabeth Bishop, and like these poets, Ryan’s masterfully concise poems fuse acute observation of the physical world with equally sharp introspection; they are both funny and dark, playful and ready to strike. She has earned fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, and is one of the fourteen Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets. Ryan’s The Best of It: New and Selected Poems, was published by Grove Press in 2010.
In this recording from the 2010 Key West Literary Seminar, Ryan reads 23 poems, all but one of which are included in her forthcoming Selected Poems. Beginning with the unpublished “A Cat,” Ryan goes on to read “Her Politeness,” and several poems from the 1994 Copper Beech Press collection Flamingo Watching, including the title poem, “This Life,” “Apology,” “Vacation,” “A Certain Kind of Eden,” “No Rest for the Idle,” “The Narrow Path,” “Spring,” “Impersonal,” “The Working Kabbalist,” “The Test We Set Ourself,” “The Hinge of Spring,” “Deer,” “Poetry Is a Kind of Money,” “Masterworks of Ming,” and “The Great-Taloned Osprey Nests in Scotland.” Ryan concludes the reading with the newer poems “Bait Goat,” “Dogleg,” “Easter Island,” and “Spiderweb.”
From KWLS 2010: Clearing the Sill of the World