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Known for compact writing and for leading a quiet life, Kay Ryan has taken on a very public role as the nation's poet laureate. <p/> She says she came to poetry reluctantly, but even as a child, she was infatuated with language. <p/> "I would like to say that, if a poem feels really dense, it isn't good. I mean, if you put it in your hand and it falls through your hand, that's no good. It's got to float," she explains in this interview.<p/> "If you have this idea of compressed language, it gives people a sense that it's going to be dense and kind of oppressive, whereas I would like to think that it can be highly selected, but not make you feel that you've just had a vitamin pill."<p/> To begin a poem, Ryan says she starts with a cliché. "I tend to think in cliches when I think to myself," she explains. But then she makes it a personal challenge to say "a thing differently than I'd ever said it before, never, you know, using the old standby."<p/> For more on how to incorporate this conversation into the class room, see the discussion questions also included in this Unit. </


  • Arts > General
  • Language Arts > General
  • Social Studies > General

Education Levels:

  • Grade 9
  • Grade 10
  • Grade 11
  • Grade 12


english poetry language arts social studies



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