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Ryan’s finesse in Erratic Facts floored me. Using short, simple language, she upends the entire world to better view just one small piece of life with startling clarity. Extraordinary wisdom; no artifice. Ryan leaps effortlessly between joyful and sad, creating something ethereal that spans the human condition. The resulting poetry is both profound and fleeting—“as though constellations/ fretted something/ to existence” to “produce brief real things/ in real places.” I was stricken.
This will be the poetry book I read most over the next month. It is about things removed from where they began-- like a tribute to change, and to survival. Each poem is brief, excessively clever, and beautiful. I have more sticky notes in this collection than in any other, because I have marked almost every poem with the specific situation in which it should be read.
Erratic Facts, Kay Ryan's first collection since the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Best of It, offers sixty-plus new examples of her swift, lucid style. Ryan examines enormous subjects with compact poems in which sly rhymes and syncopation lend an off-foot musicality to unnerving wisdom. These poems demonstrate the same quick-fire brain-work that has animated her verse for the last thirty years, in ways more daring than ever.
About the Author
Kay Ryan is a lifetime Californian whose honors include the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the National Humanities Medal. She served two terms as U.S. Poet Laureate and is currently a MacArthur Fellow.