Our New US Poet Laureate

Even dim Duhbya supports poetry, when the chimps are at the vet. A hearty welcome to Kay Ryan! peace, mjh

Dana Gioia Online – Kay Ryan

Here is “Paired Things” from Flamingo Watching in which image and abstraction dance so consummate a pas de deux that one wonders why modern poetics ever considered the two imaginative impulses at odds:

Paired Things

    Who, who had only seen wings,
    could extrapolate the
    skinny sticks of things
    birds use for land,
    the backward way they bend,
    the silly way they stand?
    And who, only studying
    birdtracks in the sand,
    could think those little forks
    had decamped on the wind?
    So many paired things seem odd.
    Who ever would have dreamed
    the broad winged raven of despair
    would quit the air and go
    bandylegged upon the ground,
    a common crow?

“Paired Things” displays Ryans characteristic style: dense figurative language, varied diction, internal rhyme, the interrogative mode, and playful vers libre, which elusively alternates between iambic and unmetered lines. One of Ryans signature devices is the counterpoint of sight and sound in the placement of her poetic language. Her hidden rhymes and metrical passages only became fully apparent when the poem is spoken aloud. “Paired Things” also hovers, as so many Ryan poems do, on the edge of allegory.

Dana Gioia Online – Kay Ryan

PS: In farewell, thanks to her predecessor, Ted Kooser.

After Years

Today, from a distance, I saw you
walking away, and without a sound
the glittering face of a glacier
slid into the sea. An ancient oak
fell in the Cumberlands, holding only
a handful of leaves, and an old woman
scattering corn to her chickens looked up
for an instant. At the other side
of the galaxy, a star thirty-five times
the size of our own sun exploded
and vanished, leaving a small green spot
on the astronomer’s retina
as he stood on the great open dome
of my heart with no one to tell.

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