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Say Uncle: Poems Paperback – September 30, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1st edition (September 30, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802137172
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802137173
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #862,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Witty, charming, serious and delightful, Ryan's fifth book of poems is also remarkably specialized. Beginning from single observations or sayings or from single facts of science or folklore, the poems seek compression, consonance, cute rhymes, and moral lessons; usually they stop short on single remarks. All are brief, irregularly rhymed, arranged in very tight acoustic patterns, and confined to very short lines (normally of no more than six syllables). Of "The Fabric of Life," Ryan begins, "It is very stretchy./ We know that, even if/ many details remain/ sketchy." "Agreement" (in a delectable set of off-rhymes) becomes "a syrup/ that lingers, shared/ not singular./ Many prefer it." Ryan, in contrast, prefers to disagree: her poems stand up, quietly, to the received ideas she takes up or inverts. These quick, clipped poems become protests against complacency, laziness and self-pity (which can be prevented) and decay, death, entropy (which cannot). "The Old Cosmologists," Ryan explains, act "as if change were not/ something that just happens/ at certain stages/ but a private test failed/ moment by moment/ as age is." If that judgment is ambiguous, "The Pass" is not: "Things test you./ You are part of/ the Donners or/ part of the rescue." Ryan prefers to carve molehills from mountains, to garnish her ethical lessons with thinly sliced bitterness; she instructs and delights by refusing to raise her voice. Her casual manner and nods to the wisdom tradition might endear her to fans of A.R. Ammons or link her distantly to Emily Dickinson. But her tight structures, odd rhymes and ethical judgments place her more firmly in the tradition of Marianne Moore and, latterly, Amy Clampitt. Those poets, though, wrote many kinds of poems: Ryan, in this volume, writes just one kind. It is, however, a kind worth looking out forAwell crafted, understated, funny and smart. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Ryan is twice winner of the Pushcart Prize, and her formal verse is well known to readers of such magazines as The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, and Paris Review. In her new collection of droll and pithy poems (following Elephant Rocks), Ryan once again pays homage to the craft of poetry. An exquisite rhyme scheme and word sounds like jonquil, tranquil, attention, and gentian (see the poem "Closely Watched Things") add whimsical padding to what is, for the most part, crystalline language with no room for the extraneous. Ryan addresses this economy in the poem "Blunt" when she says, "If we could love/ the blunt/ and not/ the point/ we would/ almost constantly/ have what we want." Recommended for public libraries and poetry discussion groups.DAnn K. van Buren, Riverdale Country Sch., New York
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By mellowdee on April 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
Transparent, yet fathomless as a crystal ball, these poems continue to speak after countless readings, not yet yielding up their secrets. Incredibly rich, they go down oh-so-easy, a verbal tiramisu. Small, yet amazingly dense, like gold nuggets. Impeccable logic, impeccable use of language. Gorgeous, and mysterious. Moving and inspiring. Kay Ryan delivers on William Carlos Williams' famous lines: It is difficult/to get the news from poems/yet men die every day/for lack/of what is found there.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By andre salz on August 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
These poems insist on their verticality as they run down the page. Their weight and glow however resides in little unexpected turns in meaning that place us squarrely in the thouroughly ambiguous world we live in. We are told that wasted time and other common negative experiences need to be accepted as maybe something like a musical pause, as crucial as the rest of the notes to the sound of the music. Reading these poems I can feel a connection with the anecdotes of Porchia or Francis Ponge's underrated work. Ryan's voice is totaly unique but I can't help recalling also Elisabeth Bishop and that marvelous poem about the little marvel stove, so full of forgiveness and yet cooly tight as a work of art.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ginger Sylvie on June 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
lyrics of moral turpitude and musical agility (the brief lines of Kay Ryan maintain their integrity), and therein lies their beauty.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Colleen P. on October 14, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kay Ryan always speaks in a clear voice. With the acuity that I recall from a young soul gazing through creekwater at all the life that flows and hides under rocks.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert Browning on February 6, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was the first book of Kay Ryan's poetry I ever read, and I couldn't put it down... and even once finished, I'm still picking it up to read over and soak up again.
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