Monday, September 21, 2020

Birthday girl …

… Kay Ryan at 75: Surprised by Joy - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

She belongs among other American eccentrics (think of Charles Ives and Joseph Cornell), who cannot be categorized or roped in. But “roping in” is just what Ms. Ryan does with words on the page: Her poems are tightly coiled, spare, often witty, and often deceptively easy-looking. Her work is formally contained but expansive in its implications. There is little overtly “personal” in its content. We don’t learn much about the artist’s life. The poetry is almost uniformly devoid of first-person pronouns other than an occasional “we.” Instead, it moves us via sheer style. This comes as a relief in our current climate of confessions, self-examinations, and mere bravado. Kay Ryan the woman is invisible; Kay Ryan the artist is uniquely recognizable. She gives us an autobiography at one remove.

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