Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

The Niagara River

by Kay Ryan

“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

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 96
  • Publication Date November 15, 2005
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4222-1
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $14.00
  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Publication Date December 01, 2007
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-9751-1
  • US List Price $14.00

About The Book

Salon compared the poems in Kay Ryan’s last collection to “Faberg” eggs, tiny, ingenious devices that inevitably conceal some hidden wonder.” The Niagara River contains similarly hidden gems. Intense and relaxed, buoy­ant and rueful, the singular music of this poetry appeals to many people. Her poems, products of an immaculately off-kilter mind, have appeared everywhere from the Sunday funnies to New York subways to the pages of The New Yorker to plaques at the zoo. As J. D. McClatchy declared in American Poet, ‘she is an anomaly in today’s literary culture: as intense and elliptical as Dickinson, as buoy­ant and rueful as Frost.”

Praise

“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

Awards

Elected as a Chancellor of the American Academy of Poets, 2006

Excerpt

“The Niagara River”

As though
the river were
a floor, we position
our table and chairs
upon it, eat, and
have conversation.
As it moves along,
we notice–as
calmly as though
dining room paintings
were being replaced–
the changing scenes
along the shore. We
do know, we do
know this is the
Niagara River, but
it is hard to remember
what that means.

“Home To Roost”

The chickens
are circling and
blotting out the
day. The sun is
bright, but the
chickens are in
the way. Yes,
the sky is dark
with chickens,
dense with them.
They turn and
then they turn
again. These
are the chickens
you let loose
one at a time
and small–
various breeds.
Now they have
come home
to roost–all
the same kind
at the same speed.