Photo: Jane Hirshfield
The Library of Congress announced Thursday the appointment of Kay Ryan as the 16th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2008-2009.
Kay Ryan; Library of Congress
The native Californian will take up her duties Oct. 16 by reading her work at the opening of the Library’s annual literary series. She also will be a featured guest at the Library of Congress National Book Festival in the Poetry pavilion Sept. 27 on the National Mall.
“Kay Ryan is a distinctive and original voice within the rich variety of contemporary American poetry,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said a statement. “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.”
Ryan was born in 1945 in San Jose and was raised in the Central Valley of California, where her father was an oil driller. In 1971, she moved to Marin County, where she still lives. For 33 years, Ryan has taught remedial English at the College of Marin.
“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.”
Her poems, which are often brief and ponderous, are also characterized by their wit and unusual perspectives and wisdom. She counts William Carlos Williams, Philip Larkin and John Donne among her favorites.
“Silence means a great deal to me, and I’ve learned to distinguish a great number of forms of silence,” Ryan said. “My poems talk about a palpable silence, that creamy, latexy kind of silence that we know, even when we’re experiencing it as a giant luxury, like a dream luxury.”
Ryan is the author of six books of poetry. Her awards include the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation; a Guggenheim fellowship; a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship; and four Pushcart Prizes. She has been a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets since 2006.
“It’s kind of a thrill to go from nothing to this,” she told The Associated Press. “This is probably going to keep me so occupied that it will discourage any contact with the deeper mind. But my deeper mind needs a break.”
Ryan told the AP that she was “delighted and surprised” to receive the job. Upon hearing that the Library of Congress had called, she thought to herself, “I can’t have that many overdue books.”
Ryan succeeds Charles Simic, who served for one year.
Â© 2008 by PBS.Org
KAY RYAN: A Brief Bio
Kay Ryan was born in California in 1945 and grew up in the small towns of the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert. She received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from UCLA.
Ryan has published several collections of poetry, including The Niagara River (Grove Press, 2005); Say Uncle (2000); Elephant Rocks (1996); Flamingo Watching (1994), which was a finalist for both the Lamont Poetry Selection and the Lenore Marshall Prize; Strangely Marked Metal (1985); and Dragon Acts to Dragon Ends (1983).
About her work, J. D. McClatchy has said: “Her poems are compact, exhilarating, strange affairs, like Erik Satie miniatures or Joseph Cornell boxes. She is an anomaly in today’s literary culture: as intense and elliptical as Dickinson, as buoyant and rueful as Frost.”
Ryan’s awards include the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Award, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Union League Poetry Prize, the Maurice English Poetry Award, and three Pushcart Prizes. Her work has been selected four times for The Best American Poetry and was included in The Best of the Best American Poetry 1988-1997.
Ryan’s poems and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poetry, The Yale Review, Paris Review, The American Scholar, The Threepenny Review, Parnassus, among other journals and anthologies. She was named to the â€śIt Listâ€ť by Entertainment Weekly and one of her poems has been permanently installed at New Yorkâ€™s Central Park Zoo. Ryan was elected a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets in 2006. In 2008, Ryan was appointed the Library of Congress’s sixteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. Since 1971, she has lived in Marin County in California.
Â© 2008 Poets.Org
Kay Ryan’s widely praised The Niagara River won the 2005 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize
If you’ve attended one of Al’s readings/performances you know what a special gift he has. In 2005 Dartanyan Brown collaborated with him to create several very special performances. Al is offering a DVD concert featuring his transcendent poetry with some of the most soulful blues and jazz that you’ll ever want to hear. This performance features selections from Al’s immense body of work including Heaven and Coastal Nights and Inland Afternoons. He reads unaccompanied but is backed on several selections by the guitar and scat singing of Dartanyan and drummer Jaimeo Brown. After Al’s reading, you can enjoy a set of world-class blues played by Hall of Fame-class musicians. It’s not often that the blues gets together with poetry and Al has been quite excited about offering this DVD to his growing legion of fans worldwide.
Please mail a check for $20 (California residents) or $25 for other U.S. residents to:
Dartanyan Brown Music
526 C Street
San Rafael, CA 94901
(Prices include shipping, but be sure to include a shipping address)
If you have questions, email me:
Or call 415.740.7115
Al Young with Jorge Molina (right), Sly Randolph (above left) and Dartanyan Brown (above right). Smiling in the background: Jaimeo Brown, percussionist son of Marcia Miget and Dartanyan Brown.
JAIMEO BROWN PERFORMS AT PEARL’S
Time & Date: Sunday, July 20, 8 & 10 p.m.
Jazz at Pearl’s
256 Columbus Ave.
San Francisco CA 94133
California Poet Laureate Al Young, a vocalist in his spare time, will join rising young jazz drummer Jaimeo Brown and his father, San Francisco bassist Dartanyan Brown – for two shows Sunday at Jazz at Pearl’s. The younger Brown, 26, is a master’s degree candidate at Rutgers University who has already played with jazz greats such as Wynton Marsalis and Bobby Hutcherson. His San Francisco band will feature pianist Michael Aaberg, tenor saxophonist Dana Stephens and bassist Dave Ewell.
“This is a homecoming of sorts for our boy,” says proud father Dartanyan Brown. “His mother, Marcia Miget” – a pianist and woodwind specialist who has played with Carlos Santana, among others – “will be joining us, too.”
For information or tickets to the 8 p.m. or 10 p.m. show at Jazz at Pearl’s, 256 Columbus Ave., San Francisco, call 415. 291.8255 or go to www.jazzatpearls.com.
Photo: Elizabeth Dayton
Please join our lively and informative program in which a widely published guest poet discusses his or her work informally with one of the poet/psychoanalysts of the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis. The conversation about the poetâ€™s process and poems and about poetry and its interface with psychoanalysis is followed by a reading of some of the poems and a discussion with the audience.
An offering of the Outreach Committee of the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis, Poetry and Psychoanalysis is free and open to the public. After each event, those who wish to do so may purchase books by the poet and have these signed.
Sunday July 20 AL YOUNG
California Poet Laureate Al Young is the author most recently of Something About the Blues: An Unlikely Collection of Poetry and Coastal Nights and Inland Afternoons: Poems 2001-2006. Throughout his literary career, Al Young has been a poet, writer, teacher and lecturer. He will be interviewed by Forrest Hamer.
When: Sunday, July 20, 2008
Time: 4:00 P.M. – 5:30 P.M.
Where: SFCP Auditorium, 2340 Jackson St., 4th Fl., S.F. 94115 (enter on Webster St.)
To register: Call 415-563-5815 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We distribute copies of the poems to be discussed, so itâ€™s helpful to know in advance how many people will attend. To RSVP, please call the Center at (415) 563-5815 by the Friday before the event. Thank you.
In clear, blue space
a funnel cloud spins into its vortex
Flesh, form, custom and oaths
Country and possessions jettisoned
in one breath
And it is we, women, who suffer all
like nuns cloistered in shadows
under eaves and mangroves
our desires small and undecipherable
as dust motes
Jan. 23, 2008
Â© 2008 by Genny Lim
En un espacio claro y azul
un nube de embudo gira
en su vĂłrtice
La carne, la forma, la costumbre y los juramentos
El paĂs y las posesiones echados por la borda
de un tirĂłn
Y somos nosotras las mujeres quienes sufrimos todo
como monjas encerradas en las sombras
bajo los aleros y los mangles
nuestros deseos tan pequeĂ±os e indescifrables
como el polvo
TraducciĂłn de Toshiya Kamei