Elephant Rocks

Elephant Rocks

by Kay Ryan
     
 

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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.… See more details below

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.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802115867
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
03/28/1996
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
84
Product dimensions:
5.77(w) x 8.58(h) x 0.64(d)

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