Tag Archives: Kay Ryan

Kay Ryan in “The Art of Poetry” in The Paris Review


How did you learn to control tone?


I’ve always been sickened by the whole discussion of natural tone, natural voice. I think that’s ridiculous. Every tone, every voice is unnatural, and it is natural to be unnatural. So there’s nothing to talk about. It works or it doesn’t work. I don’t think that anybody ought to tolerate the tyranny of the idea of “natural” voice. 

Thank you for letting me get that off my chest.

Read the whole interview here.


Coldfront Sunday Essay on Kay Ryan


Jeff Lennon wrote a nice essay for Coldfront, about Kay Ryan’s poetry. Read it here. An excerpt:

In a contemporary culture thrilled with noise and equivocation, popularity contests and advertisements, Ryan sails on the antithetical tack, as she has her entire career. Which isn’t to say she’s anti-modern. Famous for taking poetic subjects from Ripley’s Believe-it-or-not, in the new collection she takes them from Wikipedia and the New York Times Science section—“I like feeling that science and I are making a picture from opposite sides.” Still, preaching patience in a world of anxiety, looking for levity where others would anchor, you might begin to feel as lonely as, say, a turtle.

“I think there’s too much poetry out there,” she said back in 2008. “I don’t need to add to the waste stream.”

Luckily, Ryan has once more done just that. Erratics are rocks left behind as a glacier recedes. Ryan’s poetic thrust—her craft, her humor, her intelligence—doesn’t seem to be receding at all.