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For Immediate Release

Leslie Weddell
(719) 389-6038


Kay Ryan’s poems celebrated for brevity, richness of meaning

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Oct. 15, 2009   – Kay Ryan, the United States poet laureate, will speak at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 3 in the South Theatre of the Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave., on the Colorado College campus. The lecture, part of Colorado College’s Visiting Writers Series, is free and open to the public.

Ryan’s poems are most often noted for both their brevity and richness of meaning. “She writes easily understandable short poems on improbable subjects. Within her compact compositions there are many surprises in rhyme and rhythm and in sly wit pointing to subtle wisdom," says Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.

Her most well-known collections are “Elephant Rocks” and “Say Uncle,” published in 1996 and 2000, respectively.

In 1983, Ryan, privately published her first collection of poems, “Dragon Acts to Dragon Ends.” Her second collection, “Strangely Marked Metal,” was commercially published in 1985. However, it was not until the publication of her third collection, “Flamingo Watching,” in 1994 that Ryan’s work began to gain recognition. The following year, she received an award from the Ingram Merrill Foundation. 

She won the Maurice English Poetry Award and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2001. In 2004 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and also received the prestigious Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, considered one of the most esteemed awards given to an American poet.

Dana Gioia, an American poet and critic, describes the depth of Ryan’s short poems saying, “Ryan reminds us of the suggestive power of poetry – how it elicits and rewards the reader’s intellect, imagination and emotions. I like to think that Ryan’s magnificently compressed poetry… signals a return to concision and intensity.” 

CC English Professor David Mason, organizer of the college’s Visiting Writers Series, says Ryan’s work is “so original, so fresh, so funny, that sometimes its deeper implications sneak up on you and catch you unawares.”

While many compare Ryan to Emily Dickerson, Mason argues that Ryan’s work “has its own way of cracking open our assumptions about reality and language. Her work is deeply humane, rigorous but unpretentious and accessible. No one else living or dead has written like her, really, so she stands as an example of an entirely original writer.”  

For more than 30 years, Ryan has lived in Fairfax, Calif., and teaching remedial English part-time at the College of Marin, a local community college.

Last year Ryan was appointed by the Library of Congress to a one-year term as the poet laureate consultant in poetry, and in April of this year, she was reappointed to a second term. She is the 16th U.S. poet laureate consultant in poetry.

Ryan’s lecture at Colorado College is sponsored by the Demarest Lloyd Lecture Fund.

For information, directions or disability accommodation at the event, members of the public may call (719) 389-6607.

About Colorado College
Colorado College is a nationally prominent, four-year liberal arts college that was founded in Colorado Springs in 1874. The college operates on the innovative Block Plan, in which its 1,975 undergraduate students study one course at a time in intensive 3½-week blocks. The college also offers a master of arts in teaching degree. For more information, visit <>.