A Must Have Mar 13, 2008
Kay Ryan has been described as our generation's Emily Dickenson. Like Dickenson, Ryan composes her poems in very short lines and she packs dense imagery and sound into every syllable.
The majority of her poems are amusing and clever, but not "light" in the sense of lacking a deeper meaning. She often takes something like an animal or a common natural or household object and compares it to the human experience, giving us a metaphysical lesson in the process. But this isn't a philosophy text. Hardly any of Ryan's poems are longer than a page and almost everyone will make you smile in recognition of some basic truth.
Her internal rhymes and the sheer music of her words are a pleasure to read out loud, particularly given the fact that so much "modern" poetry seems to reject form, meter, and ends up looking more like intentionaly obscure prose.
Ryan never insults her reader's intelligence; she is disciplined in her choice of language and writes for the ear as much as for the page.
She is one of the best poets writing today and Say Uncle is one of her best works along with Elephant Rocks.