Like a wonder cabinet, Kay Ryan’s magnificently compressed poems open to disclose the world’s myriad curiosities.
The winner of the 2004 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, Ryan has been likened to Emily Dickinson for the wit, elegant precision, and intellectual investigation that she shares with her predecessor. The author of five collections of poetry, Ryan’s dense, epigrammatic poems “resemble pastilles,” David Yezzi wrote in Poetry, “lemon drops hard enough to cut your lip on. The sweetness derives from their gently musical, amusing surfaces, the tang from a rueful world view.”
Ryan’s poetry both delights and instructs—not only the reader, but also the writer herself. “I am always a student of poetry,” Ryan says, “and in it I find a rest that I don’t find anywhere else, whether writing my own or reading the masters. And by rest I mean not quiescence or stop, but release. What poetry does is put more oxygen into the atmosphere. Poetry makes it easier to breathe.” A Guggenheim Fellow and two-time Pushcart Prize winner, Ryan lives in the San Francisco Bay area.