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best of it book cover
by Kay Ryan

In celebration of National Poetry Month in April, SFPL has selected Marin County poet and 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner Kay Ryan’s most recent collection for On the Same Page. In their review of The Best of It, the New York Times says, "Kay Ryan’s poems are as slim as runway models, so tiny you could almost tweet them. Their compact refinement, though, does not suggest ease or chic. Her voice is quizzical and impertinent, funny in uncomfortable ways, scuffed by failure and loss. Her mastery, like Emily Dickinson’s, has some awkwardness in it, some essential gawkiness that draws you close."

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 new readers.

About The Author

Born in California in 1945, Kay Ryan grew up in the small towns of the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert. She received both a bachelor's and master's degree from UCLA. Since 1971, she has lived in Marin County in California.

Ryan has published several collections of poetry, including The Best of It: New and Selected Poems (Grove Press, 2010); The Niagara River (2005); Say Uncle (2000); Elephant Rocks (1996); Flamingo Watching (1994), which was a finalist for both the Lamont Poetry Selection and the Lenore Marshall Prize; Strangely Marked Metal (1985); and Dragon Acts to Dragon Ends (1983).

Ryan's awards include the Pulitzer Prize in 2011, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Award, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Union League Poetry Prize, the Maurice English Poetry Award, and three Pushcart Prizes. Her work has been selected four times for The Best American Poetry and was included in The Best of the Best American Poetry 1988-1997.

Ryan's poems and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poetry, The Yale Review, Paris Review, The American Scholar, The Threepenny Review, Parnassus, among other journals and anthologies. Ryan was elected a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets in 2006. In 2008, Ryan was appointed the Library of Congress's sixteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.

Reviews

 "Ryan, the current U.S. poet laureate, may well be the oddest and wisest poet to hold that prestigious post. Her tiny, skinny poems pack 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." – Publishers Weekly

"In her new book, current U.S. poet laureate Ryan (Elephant Rocks) gives readers a panoramic view of how her poetry has evolved. Throughout her career, Ryan has used a compressed and condensed language charged with playfulness and wit." – Library Journal

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