“Kay Ryan can take any subject and make it her own. Her poems–which combine extreme concision and formal expertise with broad subjects and deep feeling–could never be mistaken for anyone else’s. Her work has the kind of singularity and sustained integrity that are very, very rare. . . . It’s always a dicey business predicting the literary future . . . [but] for this reader, these poems feel as if they were built to last, and . . . they have the passion, precision and sheer weirdness to do so.” –Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry magazine and chair of the Ruth Lilly selection committee
“Ryan brazenly questions the extent to which we are in control of, and thus responsible for, our own and others’ suffering. Her work . . . operates in an American tradition stretching from Dickinson through Stevens and Frost to Ammons and Bronk, where fidelity to the natural world works as a scrim for staging such self-exploration. . . . Empathic and wryly unforgiving of the human condition, the poems are equal parts pith and punch. The effect is bracing.
” –Publishers Weekly
“Her poems are compact, exhilarating, strange affairs, like Erik Satie miniatures or Joseph Cornell boxes. She is an anomaly in today’s literary culture: as intense and elliptical as Dickinson, as buoyant and rueful as Frost.” –J.D. McClatchy
“Ryan’s poems leave the reader elevated or changed or moved but at a loss to say exactly how this effect has been wrought. It’s like arm wrestling with the scrawny kid in the schoolyard who pins you before you know what’s happened.” –David Yezzi, Poetry
“Full-brained poems in a largely half-brained world.” –Kirkus Reviews
“It’s not Ryan’s logic that makes her poems breathe fire, it’s her illogic, delivered with calm precision, like a masterful change-up pitch.” –Kate Moos, Ruminator Review
“I can’t think of another poet who makes me laugh as often as she makes me ponder the imponderables.” –Laura Miller, Salon