Kay Ryan kicks off National Poetry Month with 'The Best Of It'
With an introduction by the thirteenth Librarian of the U.S. Library of Congress, James H. Billington, to a packed audience at the 2009 National Book Festival, Kay Ryan, the sixteenth U.S. Poet Laureate, following New Hampshire Poets Laureate Charles Simic and Donald Hall, and before them Robert Pinsky, who served from 1997-2000, began her second term with a reading of eighteen poems from four collections, offering brief introductions before reading each poem, several of which have been published in her recently released collection, The Best Of It: New And Selected Poems (Grove Press; March 23, 2010), kicking-off the official U.S. National Poetry Month of April. Beginning with poems from her 2008 collection, The Jam Jar Lifeboat And Other Novelties Exposed, drawn from Ripley's Believe It Or Not epigrams, Ryan read the title poem, The Jam Jar Lifeboat, followed by Chang; Walking Stick Insect; and Felix And Anton Steinmeier. Next, Ryan read six poems from her 1997 collection, Elephant Rocks, which was inspired while jogging near her home in Fairfax, California, where she imagined elephants rising up from the ground. Beginning with the title poem, Elephant Rocks, Ryan read Living With Stripes; Doubt; Chemistry; Dew; and Bestiary. Ryan followed with four poems from her 2000 collection, Say Uncle, which were based on common sayings, folklore, and scientific facts, beginning with A Hundred Bolts Of Satin, and followed by Will To Divest; It's Always Darkest Just Before The Dawn; and Herring. Ryan concluded her reading with four poems from The Niagara River, published in 2005, animated by familiar, even cliched, expressions, beginning with Home To Roost, and closing with Shipwreck, Reverse Drama; and Time.
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