New and Selected Poems

New and Selected Poems

by Michael Ryan
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Michael Ryan’s New and Selected Poems is the first collection to appear in fifteen years from this acclaimed and masterly poet. Comprising fifty-seven poems from three award-winning volumes and thirty-one brilliant new poems, it displays the wit and passion he has brought to universal themes throughout his career. In both dramatic lyrics and complex

See more details below

Overview

Michael Ryan’s New and Selected Poems is the first collection to appear in fifteen years from this acclaimed and masterly poet. Comprising fifty-seven poems from three award-winning volumes and thirty-one brilliant new poems, it displays the wit and passion he has brought to universal themes throughout his career. In both dramatic lyrics and complex narratives, Ryan renders the world with startling clarity, freshness, and intimacy.

Ryan’s poems are filled with the stuff of everyday life: What-a-Burger, Space Invaders, “the hood ornament / on some chopped down hot rod of the apocalypse.” He observes his subjects in carefully wrought detail and with a fierce compassion, describing “stupid posters of rock stars” in the bedroom of a murdered teenager, or a homeless boy “straggle-haired, bloated, / eyes shining like ice.” As Ryan writes of others, in a final “Reminder” to himself: “their light—their light—/ pulls so surely. Let it.”

This long-awaited collection shows Ryan at the height of his powers. As William H. Pritchard said in The Nation, “Unlike too many poets who tumble into print at the first twitch of feeling, Ryan takes time to listen to himself, and such listening contributes immeasurably to the subtlety of his address to the reader . . . [He] reminds us on every page that poems can be about lives, and about them in ways most urgent and delicate.”

Read More

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"If there's any justice in the poetry world, 'My Other Self' . . . will appear in every future anthology ever compiled."—David Kirby The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
Michael Ryan's three collections-the Yale Younger-winning Threats Instead of Trees (1974), the National Poetry Series selection In Winter (1981) and the Lenore Marshall-winning God Hunger (1989)-are represented by 11, 12 and 34 pieces, respectively, in his New and Selected Poems, along with 31 new verses. In all, Ryan's straight-talking diction moves quickly from interjection to conversational analysis to terse, noirish declaration: "Oh well,/ whatever heart-bursting terror// I'm supposed to learn in dreams/ could be useful someday/ when a beloved voice screams/ and life changes utterly// No one's immune./ It's happening to someone right now./ The police, the ambulance,/ these strangers in the house." Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Ryan launched his career with Threats Instead of Trees, a Yale Younger Poets winner, and since then has consistently turned out winners. He hasn't published a collection of poetry in over a decade-clearly, he prefers quality to quantity-so this new collection is welcome indeed, even as a "new and collected" work. In fact, about a third of the poems here are new, the rest representing the best of Ryan's three previous collections, which makes this a good buy for smaller collections wanting representative works of major contemporary poets as well as an important purchase for libraries that collect poetry more extensively. Ryan is notable for his perfect blend of the colloquial and the lyric, and his lines flow effortlessly to a typical one-two punch at the end. Underneath, there's always an edgy quality that time has not blunted; perhaps the new poems are a bit more laconic, ready to pounce on issues of sex, pain, and death. "I had to help with/ the wounded and haul out the dead," concludes one poem, summing up the poet's job through the ages. Highly recommended for poetry lovers everywhere.-Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780618408542
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/03/2004
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.38(d)

Read an Excerpt

Threats from Instead of Trees

Speaking

I’m speaking again as the invalid in a dark room.
I want to say thank you out loud to no one.
I want to suck my cracked lips in on the sound, as the sound dissolves slowly like a man living.

I’m painfully grateful there’s breath to make noise with, and many words have meaning. I feel lucky when hello doesn’t hurt.
On a bus, I could love anyone.

It’s not terrible to be alone.
Last night I talked to a person so haltingly I might have been looking for a word that wouldn’t change.
That made her misconstrue everything.

Did she feel what I thought she was feeling?
Did she feel me concealing the pleasure that keeps me going, as I circled that pleasure like a dog around its master?
This pleasure, for me, is speaking, as if words enclosed the secret in myself that lasts after death.

The Myth For a long time, nothing happened.
Then ancestors whispering, then fragments of a forgotten life disturbing ordinary actions: handling a stone, or bathing, you might think of the brain as a diamond.
Even thought was clear, like watching your lover explore the bottom of a deep lake.
Everyone became friends, mirroring one another’s most personal gestures.
The leaders said this happiness is round like bowls, and devised simple rituals in which touch wasn’t a form of searching—a finger’s curving could articulate anything.

Still, some looked for damage in the hard scars on our bodies.
They reminded us of the years of pain, when anticipation meant only disappointment, and any object we desired would cut brutally through the skin.
Shouldn’t we be ashamed?
Isn’t this history we imagine in that one’s ugly movement of his arms? Her clumsy legs?

Reverting to privacy, we began to see less distinctly.
Sometimes, during an intimate talk, you’d swear you caught your best friend closing his eyes, as in sadness at his own reflection.

So we tried exhaustion, swimming alone for days. Slowly we noticed our bodies becoming smooth and beautiful, and the air seemed less necessary the deeper we dove. Maybe we forgot we were actually underwater, forgetting, as we did, all harm done, all we couldn’t be for one another.

Copyright © 2004 by Michael Ryan.
Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >