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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The crisp act is deferred, 19 April 2013
This review is from: The Best of It: New and Selected Poems (Paperback)
Ryan got her break when some poems were taken by Poetry (Chicago); interestingly, those haven't survived into this selection. Hmm.. US po-biz tends generally to the avant garde (the future, after all, is all there is) so this kind of cracker barrel*, Hallmark Cards stuff is sometimes greeted with relief. Pessimistic doesn't mean it's not platitude. Peddling philosophy for infants ('Where is is/when is is was?'), Ryan is both cutesy and prosaic. Take away the line breaks and what do you get? 'She seems unnatural by nature - too vivid and peculiar a structure to be pretty, and flexible to the point of oddity.' (This occupies six lines in the original.) 'No unguent can soothe the chap of abandonment' would work better as one line than three. But I guess she's stuck with her shtick

Double-ya see
Williams she's
Not

Nor even Marianne Moore. Dickinson, maybe - do we need two? There are successes (The Narrow Path, The Test We Set Ourself (sic), above all the disciplined Learning, where Ryan eschews her enervating trademark tic of the internal rhyme) but this selected is way too bulky for this repetitive, derivative voice. Bloodaxe have a newer, slimmer selection, winningly entitled Odd Blocks; just don't look for poetic progression

* A biscuit tin of my youth boldly declared 'If winter comes, can spring be far behind?' I'd always struggled with the logic. This year brought the answer (a resounding yes)
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The Best of It: New and Selected Poems
The Best of It: New and Selected Poems by Kay Ryan (Paperback - 21 April 2011)
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