Friday, May 14, 2010

U.S. Poet Leureate Kay Ryan visits LBCC

Photo by Christina Koci Hernandez/Library of Congress

Like the next-door neighbor stopping by to chat, Kay Ryan visited with LBCC this week, sharing her poetry, insights to her craft and what it's like to be the nation's poet laureate.

She entertained more than 400 area residents who filled the Russell Tripp Performance Center for her reading Wednesday afternoon. Another 75 or so students crammed into LBCC's Library Reading Room to ask her questions on Thursday morning.

During the reading, she shared a variety of poems from her 30-year writing career. Many of them have been published or republished in her just-released collection, "Best of It: News and Selected Poems." Among those she read was "Train-Track Figure":

Imagine a
train-track figure
made of sliver
over sliver of
vision, each
slice too brief
to add detail
or deepen: that
could be a hat
if it's a person
if it's a person
if it's a person.
Just the same
scant information
timed to supplant
the same scant

She also read a poem called “The Walking Stick Insect.” It was one of several Ryan poems inspired by the odd collection that Robert Leroy Ripley made famous in his "Ripley's Believe It or Not" books.

The epigraph to the poem, which is from "Jam Jar Lifeboat & Other Novelties Exposed," says, “The walking stick insect of South America often loses an antenna or leg — but always grows a new appendage. Often nature makes a mistake and a new antenna grows where the leg was lost.” Here it is:

Eventually the

most accident-prone

or war-weary

walking sticks

are entirely

reduced to antennae

with which they

pick their way


appalled by




No comments: