Elephant Rocks

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Elephant Rocks, Kay Ryan's third book of verse, shows a virtuoso practitioner at the top of her form. Appealing to a wide range of readers, Ryan's work reaches out both to those who wish to be invited into a poem and to those who insist on being persistently intrigued. Above all what distinguishes Kay Ryan as a poet is her flamboyant imagination and large ambition. She has embarked on a major poetic career, and this book confirms her as one of the most distinctive and attractive...
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Elephant Rocks: Poems

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Overview

Elephant Rocks, Kay Ryan's third book of verse, shows a virtuoso practitioner at the top of her form. Appealing to a wide range of readers, Ryan's work reaches out both to those who wish to be invited into a poem and to those who insist on being persistently intrigued. Above all what distinguishes Kay Ryan as a poet is her flamboyant imagination and large ambition. She has embarked on a major poetic career, and this book confirms her as one of the most distinctive and attractive voices to come along in years.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ryan's third book of poems, following Flamingo Watching 1994, is a meditation on a quirky, quixotic natural world full of animal-shaped rocks and other oddities "There could be an island paradise/ where crustaceans prevail". In a style characterized by formal elegance and extreme economy of language "As some people age,/ they kinden", Ryan's work is a unique blend of careful observation of the external world of sensation and a faithful documentation of the inner world of thought. Her work recalls Dickinson's in substance as in directness: "We know it is close/ to something lofty./ Simply getting over being sick/ or finding lost property." Although at times her terse, rhyming verses have the patness of nursery rhymes "A thought is dumb,/ without eyes, ears,/ opposable thumb,/ or a tongue'', her best poems are resonant and memorable precisely because they are so compressed and because the images they contain are so insightfully and provocatively given: "The grains shall be collected/ from the thousand shores/ to which they found their way,/ and the boulder restored." May
Elizabeth Millard
Once an object or a word becomes familiar, it may be difficult to interpret it freshly. Ryan is remarkably dexterous at slanting the poetic light upon commonplaces to disclose previously unknown contours. Nothing is too prosaic for her, but she likes words best, for they are especially subject to a chemistry "which dissolves / or doubles / their strength." Her short lines and plain speech underline her researchlike diligence with a simplicity of statement that belies the depth of her poems, which is greater than a first glance sees, as when contemplation of the word "crib" leads to questioning of humanity's worthiness of the baby Jesus: "Note, for instance, in our / annual rehearsals of innocence, / the substitution of manger for crib--/ as if we ever deserved that baby, / or thought we did." Under Ryan's scrutiny, words definitely double their strength, and the ordinary dissolves.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802115867
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/28/1996
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 84
  • Product dimensions: 5.77 (w) x 8.58 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Table of Contents

Living with Stripes 1
Doubt 2
Mirage Oases 3
Cirque 4
That Vase of Lilacs 6
Chemistry 8
Connections 9
Dew 10
Lacquer Artist 11
All Shall Be Restored 12
Full Measure 14
Stars of Bethlehems 15
Crib 16
Bestiary 18
How Birds Sing 19
How a Thought Thinks 20
Intention 22
If the Moon Happened Once 23
New Clothes 24
Simply by Growing Larger 26
To the Young Anglerfish 27
Crustacean Island 28
Creatures of the Margins 29
Imaginary Eskimos 30
Outsider Art 32
Caught 34
Salts 36
Les Petites Confitures 38
Why Isn't It All More Marked 40
Witness 42
Learning 43
Apogee 44
Killing Time 46
Against Gravity 48
Lacunae 49
Intransigence 50
Age 52
Counsel 53
Insult 54
Silence 55
A Cat/A Future 56
Hope 57
Losses 58
The Cabinet of Curiosities 59
To Explain the Solitary 60
Her Politeness 61
Bad Patch 62
Swept Up Whole 63
Any Morning 64
Relief 66
Part Midas 67
The Woman Who Wrote Too Much 68
Surfaces 70
Sonnet to Spring 72
A Plain Ordinary Steel Needle Can Float on Pure Water 73
Distance 74
The Vessel and the Cup 76
Wooden 77
The Second 78
Heat 80
Poetry in Translation 82
If She Only Had One Minute 83
Elephant Rocks 84
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