Kay Ryan

Kay Ryan, an appreciation

Kay Ryan's Ladder

Kay Ryan, herself, on cooperative endeavors in the creative arts.

A short porfolio of her poems

More Poems

And a review from earlier this year of her "greatest hits"

A taste:

from "I Go to AWP"
Kay Ryan

I have a weak character. I am very susceptible to other people’s enthusiasms, at times actually courting them. I like to sit among people who feel strongly about a basketball team, say, and get excited with them. I love to love ouzo with ouzo lovers. These are, of course, innocent examples. But this weakness concerns me in going to AWP. If I’m exposed to the enthusiasms of others, I know that I am capable of betraying my deepest convictions, laughing in the face of a lifetime of hostility to instruction, horror at groupthink. The only way I’ve ever gotten along in this world is by staying away from it; I have had only enough character to keep myself out of situations that require character. Now here I am, going to AWP. How am I going to remember: these people are THE SPAWN OF THE DEVIL? They will seem like individuals, not deadly white threads of the great creative writing fungus.

On the enthusiasms jag, I sympathize with Kay.  I, too, am very easily swayed by the opinions of others, the bulwark against which is my stubborn refusal to be swayed by anything, including me.

My first exposure to Ms. Ryan's poetry was in Battery City Park.  The water taxis/shuttles that move people around the island of Manhattan had a line of her poetry written on the hull:

"Look boats of mercy embark from our heart at the oddest knock"--Kay Ryan

That line just struck a chord with me and lingers with me still.

And here, you can see a photograph of it.


  1. I love this:

    "It turns out I have an aversion to cooperative endeavors of all sorts. I couldn’t imagine making a play or movie, for instance; so many people involved. I don’t like orchestral music. I don’t like team sports. I love the solitary, the hermetic, the cranky self-taught. Make mine the desert saints, the pole-sitters, the endurance cyclists, the artist who paints rocks cast from bronze so that they look exactly like the rocks they were cast from; you can’t tell the difference when they’re side by side. It took her years to do a pocketful. You just know she doesn’t go to art conferences."

  2. I love Ryan. It's interesting that she's a featured presenter at the upcoming AWP conference: http://www.awpwriter.org/conference/2011headliners.php

  3. Dear Anonymous,

    Many thanks for stopping by and sharing that news!




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