Glowing rhymes

Pasatiempo - - In Other Words - — Jen­nifer Levin

Though Kay Ryan is the au­thor of seven books of po­etry as well as a new and se­lected col­lec­tion,

The Best of It (Grove Press), and served as the 16th United States poet lau­re­ate (2008–2010), she was known as a po­etry out­sider un­til well into her ca­reer, which she has spent writ­ing po­etry and teach­ing re­me­dial English part-time at the Col­lege of Marin at Kent­field, a com­mu­nity col­lege near her home in Marin County, Cal­i­for­nia. Ryan, who ap­pears as part of the Lan­nan Foun­da­tion’s Read­ings & Con­ver­sa­tions se­ries with the poet As­turo Ri­ley, es­chews the first per­son for a more dis­tanced per­spec­tive on her sub­ject mat­ter, en­jamb­ing her lines to cre­ate rough edges and shove the reader through the poem. She writes de­cep­tively sim­ple, tiny lit­tle po­ems about a di­verse range of top­ics that rely on what she calls re­com­bi­nant rhyme for their style, a kind of rhyme that ap­pears within the lines rather than in a for­mal struc­ture at the ends of lines. In a Win­ter 2008 in­ter­view in The Paris Re­view, Ryan com­pared re­com­bi­nant rhyme to adding “a snip of the jel­ly­fish’s glow-in-the-dark gene to bun­nies and mak[ing] them glow green; by snip­ping up pieces of sound and re­dis­tribut­ing them through­out a poem I found I could get the poem to go a lit­tle bit lu­mi­nes­cent.” Ryan has re­ceived nu­mer­ous awards for her work, in­clud­ing a grant from the Na­tional En­dow­ment for the Arts, the Ruth Lilly Po­etry Prize, and a Guggen­heim Fel­low­ship. She was a fi­nal­ist for the Na­tional Book Crit­ics Cir­cle Award for Po­etry for The Best of It. Ryan was elected a chan­cel­lor of the Academy of Amer­i­can Poets in 2006, and in 2009 she launched Po­etry for the Mind’s Joy, an ini­tia­tive to draw na­tional at­ten­tion to po­etry writ­ten at com­mu­nity col­leges.

The Lan­nan event takes place at 7 p.m. Wed­nes­day, April 13, at the Len­sic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter (211 W. San Fran­cisco St.). Tick­ets are $7, $4 for stu­dents and se­niors, and are avail­able by call­ing 988-1234 or vis­it­ing www.tick­etssantafe.org. The con­ver­sa­tion is broad­cast at 2 p.m. Sun­day, April 17, on KSFR-FM 101.1.

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