Kenyon Review logo

Kay Ryan

Kay Ryan became the sixteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 2008. Raised in the San Joaquin Valley and Mojave Desert, Ryan spent her professional career teaching English at College of Marin in Kentfield, California and writing poems. Her collections have earned numerous awards, including a Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and several Pushcart Prizes. Her books include Dragon Acts to Dragon Ends (1983), Strangely Marked Metal (1985), Elephant Rocks (1996) and Say Uncle (2000).

Winter 1997

Looking under the Landscape

By Kay Ryan

Landscape and Memory by Simon Schama. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995. 652 pages. $40.00.   It is Simon Schama’s thesis in Landscape and Memory that it’s no good trying […]

Summer 1987

A Certain Meanness of Culture

By Kay Ryan

And about Blake’s supernatural territories, as about the supposed ideas that dwell there, we cannot help commenting on a certain meanness of culture. They illustrate the crankiness, the eccentricity, which […]

Summer 1987

The Tables Freed

By Kay Ryan

The presence of real objects is a nightmare for me. I have always overturned objects. A chair or table turned upside down gives me peace and satisfaction.                                   Marc Chagall A […]

Spring 1985

Why We Cannot Be Oriental

By Kay Ryan

It is this damnable English. One cannot but feel foolish trying to describe the heron-on-one-leg patiently-waiting-for-the-fish-to-commit his-fatal-act-of-unconsciousness better than this. It is a discursive language, heavy and black as the […]

Spring 1985

The Devil

By Kay Ryan

The devil is an angel like any other one. The same wings, the same empyrean. Yes the devil is snowy white and not red; he has no pointed tail or […]

Spring 1985

It Doesn’t Matter

By Kay Ryan

If you watched a sheet of paper burn to gray flutter that would be it doesn’t matter whispered. If hearts were paper it would make them rise; they would be […]

Spring 1985

Song from the Watchtower

By Kay Ryan

Say we survive our own exaggerations; say we no longer hope to harness oceans; say the benisons of the porpoise again follow their natural currents and boats cleave again to […]

Spring 1985

That Gentleness

By Kay Ryan

The hand which would hook birds from the sky and pin strong fishes, the heart which would run with wild horses, the eye which would swallow light — all the […]

The Tables Freed

By Kay Ryan

From The Kenyon Review, New Series, Summer 1987, Vol. IX, No. 3 The presence of real objects is a nightmare for me. I have always overturned objects. A chair or […]