Synopses & Reviews
Kay Ryan's current appointment as the sixteenth Poet Laureate of the United States is the latest in a cascade of accolades that have finally caught up with a poet who has always found her own way—both in the poetry she writes and the quiet life she has preferred. Over the years critics have noted that each new book of poems by Kay Ryan reads like a "selected" in its intensity. Now, in the much anticipated The Best of It: New and Selected Poems, Kay Ryan further distills this supremely achieved body of work. Here is the poet’s own selection of more than two hundred poems, offering both longtime followers and new readers a stunning retrospective of her earlier work as well as a generous selection of powerful new poems. The result is a major event in American poetry.
"Ryan...may well be the oddest and wisest poet to hold that prestigious post. Her tiny, skinny poems back a punch unlike anything else in contemporary poetry, though not unlike haiku, if haiku could be cut with a dash of Groucho Marx. This, her first retrospective volume, which also contains a book's worth of new poems, is a much-needed introduction to the work of one of our best and most accessible poets. She asks the necessary questions hiding just beneath the obvious ones…Pithy poems manage to encapsulate far more than their few words should hold...Sassy, smart and deep as they are hilarious, Ryan's poems are among the best." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)(Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Melancholy lucidity is Ryan's greatest gift, and it can be heard in all her most successful poems. But her most startling discovery is that melancholy, with its tendency to brood and spread, is best contained in a form that is tight, witty, almost sprightly sounding. Her poems are often built on the logic of the pun, taking an ordinary word or dead cliche´ as a title and then jolting it to unexpected life." Adam Kirsch, The New Yorker
"A lifelong Californian (and US poet laureate from 2008-2010), Ryan creates poetry that is spare, laconic, awash with word play, but with a fierceness underneath. This collection frames the brilliance of her career." David L. Ulin, LA Times
Kay Ryan's recently concluded two-year term as the Library of Congress's sixteenth poet laureate is just the latest in an amazing array of accolades for this wonderfully accessible, widely loved poet—her awards include the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation, four Pushcart Prizes, and a Guggenheim fellowship. Ryan's The Best of It: New and Selected Poems has garnered lavish praise. The two hundred poems in The Best of It offer a stunning retrospective of her work, as well as a swath of never-before-published poems—all of which are sure to appeal equally to longtime fans and general readers.
About the Author
Kay Ryan served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2008 through 2010. She has long lived in Marin County, California.