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Elephant Rocks: Poems Paperback – August 19, 1997
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From Publishers 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."
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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. Elizabeth Millard --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Oh, and many of these are also fun, somewhat impish.
Highly recommend. A really good read.
One final paradox: Although these poems are not confessional (they do not contain personal remembrances, hurts, or hopes), they gradually reveal an intensely individual mind--a lucid, generous, and humorous one.
In my opinion Kay is the best, most beautiful poet working in the English language today. She has quietly reinvented rhyming poetry according to her own peculiar--but very logical--rules. I consider her best poems to be miraculous.
Silence is not snow./ It cannot grow/ deeper. A thousand years/ of it are thinner/ than paper. so/ we must have it/ all wrong/ when we feel trapped/ like mastodons.