The Kay Ryan reading was terrific. She is a very handsome woman, and so funny. She mentioned during the reading that she wanted to be a stand-up comic when she was young. As I listened to her delightful in-between poem chatter, I thought: Oh My God! She is the love-child of Bea Arthur and Ellen DeGeneres!
She read a few poems each from her first book, and from Elephant Rocks and Say Uncle, and some new work from a forthcoming book called The Niagra River (the wonderful title poem is funny, and grim, all at the same time; how we are all floating along on the river, not even thinking of the falls). I had not realized it before, but her work is very much akin to that of Emily Dickinson, in it's concision, density, philosophical bent, and musicality.
The brief after-reading interview was actually pretty good this time (thank god the interviewer seemed to at least be familiar with the poets work, for once). Kay is very self-deprecating, doesn't take herself too seriously, but is out and proud of what she has accomplished. I love how she is not an academic in the negative sense (she teaches basic English skills to immigrants, if I am not mistaken).
A group of us went out after to Ten for salads and martinis: a perfect end to a wonderful nite of poetry! Here's a poem she says has been read at several weddings:
A Plain Ordinary Steel Needle Can Float on Pure Water
-- Ripley's Believe It or Not!
Who hasn't seen
a plain ordinary
steel needle float serene
on water as if lying on a pillow?
The water cuddles up like Jell-O.
It's a treat to see water
so rubbery, a needle
so peaceful, the point encased
in the tenderest dimple.
It seems so simple
when things or people
have modified each other's qualities
we almost forget the oddity