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SPEAKER: Kay Ryan
EVENT DATE: 05/07/2009
RUNNING TIME: 63 minutes
U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan concludes the Library of Congress 2008-2009 literary season with a poetry reading in the historic Coolidge Auditorium, where past consultants/laureates—such as Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Hayden—have read.
Speaker Biography: Born and raised in California, Ryan taught remedial English part-time for 30 years at the College of Marin in Kentfield, Calif., thus leaving much of her life free for "a lot of mountain bike riding plus the idle maunderings poets feed upon." Ryan describes poetry as an intensely personal experience for both the writer and the reader: "Poems are transmissions from the depths of whoever wrote them to the depths of the reader. To a greater extent than with any other kind of reading, the reader of a poem is making that poem, is inhabiting those words in the most personal sort of way. That doesn't mean that you read a poem and make it whatever you want it to be, but that it's operating so deeply in you that it is the most special kind of reading." Her many awards include the 2005 Gold Medal for Poetry from the San Francisco Commonwealth Club; the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from The Poetry Foundation in 2004; a Guggenheim fellowship the same year; and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship as well as the Maurice English Poetry Award in 2001.