Sensitive compression

Some do indeed get their due, though it takes a few decades. Kay Ryan, a Californian poet and the author of a half-dozen books, has fashioned her art not in the groves of M.F.A.-academe, but in the unregarded and unsheltered Mojave. She has whittled and shaped, whittled and shaped her words down to such gems as the poem published a few days ago in Poetry Daily:

The Light of Interiors
Kay Ryan

The light of interiors
is the admixture
of who knows how many
doors ajar, windows
casually curtained,
unblinded or opened,
oculi set into ceilings,
wells, ports, shafts,
loose fits, leaks,
and other breaches
of surface. But, in
any case, the light,
once in, bounces
toward the interior,
glancing off glassy
enamels and polishes,
softened by the scuffed
and often-handled, muffled
in carpet and toweling,
buffeted down hallways,
baffled equally
by the scatter and order
of love and failure
to an ideal and now
sourceless texture which
when mixed with silence
makes of a simple
table with flowers
an island.

Volume CLXXXIII, Number 2
November 2003

Among its virtues are the many internal rhymes; the idiosyncratic use and non-use of meter; the fact that the entire poem is 2 (!) sentences long; and the theme itself, which many a poet has tilted at and failed. (The only thing I'm not sure about is the imprecise, nearly cliched "love and failure.")

To learn more about Ryan's work, take a look at this fine essay by Dana Gioia. You might also like to look at her new poem Hailstorm in The Atlantic (though I believe it's inferior to the one above).

No comments:

Post a Comment