Thursday, June 07, 2007

Quite an evening ...

... is what was had by all at the WCU Poetry Conference last night. At dinner I sat next to Rhina Espaillat, who was absolutely delightful, who promised to send me copies of the translations she is working on of poems by St. John of the Cross. She told me father used to walk around the house recciting them aloud - even though he was an atheist.
Kay Ryan proved to be every bit as wry and wonderful as her poems. She was funny, pointing out that she made up one detail in a poem - about eighty coats of lacquer - because she needed eighty for the rhyme, adding that, while she likes facts, she doen't let them get in her way.
Her poems, I gather - as I suspected - are through-composed. She doesn't work with a longer text that she pares down. She works her way patiently to the end - and sometimes, later on, has to add a bit - "put some more flesh on the bones," I think is how she put it.
In a couple of hours I am going to be on a panel discussing Kay Ryan's work. Problem is, Dana Gioia in his introduction, and Kay herself in her remarks, sort of stole my thunder. We'll see how it goes. Later.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Frank,

    I wish I were there.

    Rhina Espaillat lives just 30 miles from here, and there you are at her table, while I've never gone out to the poetry activities in Newburyport, and seen or met her. (I was in Newburyport for Mark Doty's book signing a couple months ago.)

    But also, you mention Kay Ryan. At Poetry & Poets in Rags just this Tuesday, I headlined with her brilliant piece in Arabesques, Poetry Is Funny. In my announcement on the poetry forums, I said, "We lead off with a remarkable essay by Kay Ryan that, I am sure you will agree, is required reading on the web."