I am however reminded that of the variegated flora and fauna within my purview I do attend enough to the angels and monsters of the poetic firmament. Thus be forewarned that I may attempt to mend my negligence in days to come.
So what better way to begin than to give a moment or two to Kay Ryan, the PLOTUS, as Donald Hall coined the Poet Laureate od the United States.
As it happens Kay Ryan (Flamingo Watching) has a new (her seventh) collection, The Best of It: New and Selected Poems (Grove Press) out in the wide world, or at least at thoughtful booksellers. Ryan lives in California, where she has been teaching remedial English in Marin County (I have tried to live very quietly, so I could be happy) for over 30 years.
Kay Ryan sees poetry an intense personal experiencefor the poet and the reader:
Poems are transmissions from the depths of whoever wrote them to the depths of the reader. To a greater extent than with any other kind of reading, the reader of a poem is making that poem, is inhabiting those words in the most personal sort of way. That doesn’t mean that you read a poem and make it whatever you want it to be, but that it’s operating so deeply in you, that it is the most special kind of reading.From Ryan's Great Thoughts:
Great thoughtsJohn Barr, president of The Poetry Foundation, speaks of reading Kay Ryan:
do not nourish
as parents do children.
Like the eucalyptus,
they make the soil
beneath them barren.
Halfway into a Ryan poem, one is ready for either a joke or a profundity; typically it ends in both. Before we know it the poem arrives at some unexpected, deep insight that likely will alter forever the way we see that thing.