Click Image to Visit the Pecan Grove Press Web Page for Poetry from Paradise Valley


Poetry From Paradise Valley

Pecan Grove Press has released an anthology of poems, a sampling of works published in Valparaiso Poetry Review during its first decade, from the original 1999-2000 volume to the 2009-2010 volume.

Poetry from Paradise Valley includes a stellar roster of 50 poets. Among the contributors are a former Poet Laureate of the United States, a winner of the Griffin International Prize, two Pulitzer Prize winners, two National Book Award winners, two National Book Critics Circle winners, six finalists for the National Book Award, four finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and a few dozen recipients of other honors, such as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, etc.

Readers are encouraged to visit the Poetry from Paradise Valley page at the publisher's web site, where ordering information about the book can be found.

Best Books of Indiana 2011: Finalist. Judges' Citation: "Poetry from Paradise Valley is an excellent anthology that features world-class poetry, including the work of many artists from the Midwest, such as Jared Carter, Annie Finch, David Baker, and Allison Joseph. It’s an eclectic and always interesting collection where poems on similar themes flow into each other. It showcases the highest caliber of U. S. poetry."
—Indiana Center for the Book, Indiana State Library

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Kay Ryan: Poet Laureate of the United States

The New York Times reports that Kay Ryan has been selected as the new Poet Laureate of the United States. She will be succeeding Charles Simic and will be the sixteenth poet officially named to the position since it was titled as such in 1986. In the five decades before then, from 1937 until 1986, the position was labeled as “consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress.”

In February of 2007, “One Poet’s Notes” offered a review of Ryan’s most recent collection of poetry, The Niagara River. (In the accompanying video, Kay Ryan presents poems from that volume at a reading in San Clemente, CA.) As a sample of the observations in the previous post, I submit the opening paragraphs:

When I read Kay Ryan’s poetry, I am sometimes reminded of my first visit to a Jasper Johns retrospective exhibition at the Whitney Museum nearly three decades ago. I recall my initial reactions to all that artwork with images, symbols, and signs that seemed so ordinary upon a quick glance. The paintings of targets appeared merely as concentric circles on a square canvas, the different depictions of American flags or bronzed beer cans seemed nothing more than clever alterations of reality, and the stenciled letters spelling out “red” or “yellow” in colors at variance with their wording represented only an obvious attempt at irony. However, upon closer scrutiny the banal suddenly became a more complicated set of symbols or signs, each inviting viewers to see beyond an icon’s surface meanings and to seek deeper readings in its unconventional appearance. I concluded an additional aspect of wit made the experience linger and even more enjoyable. As John Ashbery has written of Jasper Johns, “One may puzzle over his pictures, but one does not escape them.”

Similarly, Kay Ryan’s work proves puzzling upon opening her new book, The Niagara River; nevertheless, the brief and spare style, familiar from her past collections, remains with the reader and seeps into one’s thoughts about poetry in much the same way Johns’s art has become a reliable part of contemporary consciousness. Ryan’s deceptively straightforward yet complex and smart poems arise from a seemingly simple pattern of slender, usually unbroken, stanzas written in a plain and accessible vocabulary. Despite line breaks that sometimes seem haphazard or normally might create jerkiness as one reads through the poem, this poet appears always in full control, and the lines display a surprising fluency aided by subtle alliteration or other lyrical devices, often including nearly-hidden internal rhymes or near-rhymes.

Like Jasper Johns, Ryan frequently focuses upon objects or language with which we are so familiar that we may have forgotten to pay much attention any longer, forcing a fresh look. Perhaps no other poet, except Ashbery, brings back to life dull and overused terms or platitudinous sayings as often and as well as Kay Ryan. In Ryan’s poetry, clichéd and hackneyed phrases become sources of inspiration. Poems in The Niagara River arise from reexamination of chickens coming home to roost, the elephant in the room, the other shoe dropping, one’s being green behind the ears, and other elements of well-known expressions. However, Ryan manages to infuse new blood into these dead idioms so that they exist with a sense of lively eloquence, clever wit, and original imagery within the lines of her poetry . . ..

Readers are urged to examine the rest of the commentary on Kay Ryan's poetry.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. I've added a link to it on the online guide to Kay Ryan resources at: http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ryan/

Rhea said...

I hadn't heard of her, but that makes it exciting. We will all be familiar with her work before too long.

nolapoet said...

I am insanely happy at the news... Kay Ryan is just the kind of poet who deserves such recognition. So many poets these days posture and squawk and scream, "Look at MEEEE!" Ryan just lives her life, does her job, and puts it, solid, on the page.

sexy said...
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