Monday, April 26, 2010

Amazing Grace

I recently had the chance to hear Kay Ryan, the US Poet Laureate, read her work at Delaware County Community College. As she said, there is no requirement for a Poet Laureate to have a project but "they would very much appreciate it if you did." She attended community college and has taught remedial English for many years, so decided to highlight the opportunities that they afford ('afford' in more ways than one) during her tenure. She will only be doing readings at community colleges so keep an eye out for her at a community college near you.

Ryan spoke about how she feels the most interesting things in poetry (and in life) happen at the edges. She writes poems with very short lines but great depth, exposing all the edges to scrutiny with sort of a 'bring it on' bravado. She also investigates phrases we take for granted and tries to juxtapose new meanings on them. So, with a nod to Kay Ryan...

Amazing Grace

Sunset over a blue ocean
won't do it.

Neither will a candle lit
against the darkness
or a cool hand on
a fevered forehead.

It has to be more
than lingering last notes,
a small kindness,
dignity in adversity.

Not generosity
or forbearance.
Certainly not love.

This is the least
she would expect,
although she is pleased
anyone thinks of her
at all anymore.

Beth Feldman Brandt 2009