Sunday, October 02, 2005

New Kay Ryan

I've been reading the new Kay Ryan book, The Niagara River. It's her usual stuff: short, narrow, epigrammatic poems, in the vein of Emily Dickinson. Here's one:

Backward Miracle

Every once in a while
we need a
backward miracle
that will strip language,
make it hold for
a minute: just the
vessel with the
wine in it —
a sacramental
refusal to multiply,
reclaiming the
single loaf
and the single
fish thereby.

I love how this poem is so simple on the surface, yet if you begin to burrow into it a whole world of ideas opens: language, meaning, hermeneutics, religion, a return to prime origins. I love it.


David Vincenti said...

I love this poems as well; it's been hanging over my desk since it appeared in Poetry. It works on a lot of levels for me, in particular the great, subtle use of rhyme. And I've puzzled over the line breaks for longer than such a short poem should warrant!

But Dickinson? Maybe I don't know her stuff well enough. I see much more Williams.

Peter said...

David: WC Williams? Yes I can definitely see it. But Ryan seems perhaps more abstract and philosophical to me.