Sunday, July 20, 2008

Kay Ryan: Poet Laureate

The Library of Congress has announced that Kay Ryan will become the new Poet Laureate this October. Here's a New York Times profile of her; here's one of her poems; here's some footage of her at a public reading (warning: the audience suffers from OLS (Over-Laughing Syndrome)). The NYTimes piece includes this notable testimonial:

Dana Gioia, a poet and the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, was an early supporter of Ms. Ryan’s work, describing her as the “thoughtful, bemused, affectionate, deeply skeptical outsider.”

“She would certainly be part of the world if she could manage it,” he said. “She has certain reservations. That is what makes her like Dickinson in some ways.”

Ryan writes interesting, accessible poetry with a humor that reminds us of Billy Collins, but with a more careful attention to phrasing and sound. Still, although she's a fine choice for the position, we can't help but think that she'll have as much success broadening the nation's interest in poetry as David Beckham has had in making soccer our national sport.

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