Mountain biking poet and remedial English teacher Kay Ryan made the news again.
Psst! For xlnt N.Y.TIMES story see comments section at bottom.
Our neighbor is a familiar sight in the mornings, jogging the woodsie loop, but not yesterday. She’d just learned that she has been tapped as America’s Poet-In-Chief.
Why not join the cheering fans, friends, acolytes, groupies, hangers-on, sponsors, relatives –and, of course, that one editor that ran her work when short, sharp, & deep ran against the prevailing trends in poetry?
Whatever they are. I sure don’t know. Before I met Kay I scarcely looked at poems.
Yes, there are fashions in poetry. And yes people emulate (or publish) what’s popular.
Back in the 1990’s some university had requested her to be the honorary head of the creative writing dept. And she told me why she turned it–and all similar job offers, honorary titles– down: she’d simply prefer not to.
‘You can’t teach poetry writing. Creative writing degrees don’t make poets. If you have a program, and teachers, you’ll have to have grades, evaluations, and the students inevitably end up writing to get a good grade, and that robs them of the chance to risk being original. Usually you learn to write poetry by reading a lot, and going into a corner and writing. Putting it away for awhile, looking at it again. And writing some more.”
I shuddered, since most of my attempts at writing poetry (at least after meeting Kay and attending many local readings, buying her books, etc) echoed–however feebly– that unmistakeable voice. Mirroring someone’s accent, tic, etc… is a habit of mine that must be wrestled under control.
In Scotland, I allowed myself to say “aye” three or for times. It felt a bit strange, since it sounds like “eye” or “I”.
Thinking about all things poetic. When in the state I’m in today (ecstatic, post-ride bliss, even without remembering to have breakfast and shite, it’s ten-thirty!) everything seems to rhyme, have intelligible rhythm, and to matter. Is it mania?
No matter… I will pull out my notes and re-issue an outline, send it to Ten Speed Press, and convince them they need me for their vast, educated readership. I almost feel like anything I touch will turn to gold, and this feeling doesn’t last long.
Note: for another post about Kay, see “For Kay Ryan Out Loud” in this blog.
(sample from Lighthouse Keepers
a light for
those left out.
It is intimate
and remote both
for the keeper
and those afloat.