I don't know how many people get excited about seeing who the new poet laureate is... I do.
But I was raised on poetry. My parents used to delight in reading poems to me at night, often in place of stories. Now I understand why. To read a sweet, condensed William Carlos Williams poem instead of a long drawn-out fairy tale would make me happy too. To read a dark, foreboding Edgar Allen Poe poem instead of a scary ghost-story would be more appropriate for a sensitive child like myself.
So, we have a new leader... Kay Ryan. I hope she won't mind if I reprint one of her most famous poems here. It is lovely. Sad and lovely.
Who would be a turtle who could help it?
A barely mobile hard roll, a four-oared helmet,
She can ill afford the chances she must take
In rowing toward the grasses that she eats.
Her track is graceless, like dragging
A packing-case places, and almost any slope
Defeats her modest hopes. Even being practical,
She’s often stuck up to the axle on her way
To something edible. With everything optimal,
She skirts the ditch which would convert
Her shell into a serving dish. She lives
Below luck-level, never imagining some lottery
Will change her load of pottery to wings.
Her only levity is patience,
The sport of truly chastened things.
From Flamingo Watching
Copper Beach Press, 1994
Copyright Kay Ryan.
All rights reserved.