Ryan, Kay

Ryan, Kay,

1945–, American poet, b. San Jose, Calif., grad. Univ. of California at Los Angeles (B.A., 1967; M.A., 1968). She taught remedial English in a Marin co. community college for more than 30 years. Ryan's compressed, restrained, elliptical, and frequently witty poems are characterized by slant and internal rhymes, alliteration, neologisms, and other forms of wordplay. Her verse employs the first person rarely and avoids the obviously personal yet is filled with sly, often profound revelations regarding her experience of the world. Her collections are Dragon Acts to Dragon Ends (1983), Strangely Marked Metal (1985), Flamingo Watching (1994), Elephant Rocks (1996), Say Uncle (2000), Believe It or Not! (2002), The Niagara River (2005), The Jam Jar Lifeboat (2008), The Best of It (2010), and Erratic Facts (2015). She also has written numerous essays, e.g., her studies of poets and their poetry in Synthesizing Gravity (2020), was U.S. poet laureatepoet laureate
, title conferred in Britain by the monarch on a poet whose duty it is to write commemorative odes and verse. It is an outgrowth of the medieval English custom of having versifiers and minstrels in the king's retinue, and of the later royal patronage of poets, such
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 (2008–10), and was awarded (2011) a MacArthur Foundation fellowship.
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