Customer Reviews on Amazon.com

(23 reviews)
3.9 out of 5 stars
  1. 5 star (12)
  2. 4 star (1)
  3. 3 star (5)
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  1.  Clever but, in the end, a little meh. 3 November, 2014 On Amazon.com
    Format:Paperback
    Some formal aspects of Kay Ryan's poetry have already been remarked upon a lot, e.g., the sporadic and imperfect rhymes (which are nice but can also be a little too much sometimes). Some themes keep popping up: space, silence, emptiness, the substantiality of seemingly insubstantial things ('Forgetting,' 'Beasts, 'Gaps'), and in general, the actual heterogeneity of seemingly homogeneous things. Bottom line: I wanted to like Kay Ryan's poetry more than I did. In some places it's clever, in other places, it's thought provoking, but with a few exceptions (e.g., 'Cheshire'), I couldn't really identify any statement about life, art, or anything else, and I didn't find it too interesting in terms of language. Maybe I will give it another shot sometime. In the meantime, I'm really enjoying Coleman Bark's translations of Rumi, http://www.amazon.com/The-Essential-Rumi-Expanded-Edition/dp/0062509594/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415037977&sr=8-1&keywords=essential+rumi
  2.  Each poem should start a new page 27 September, 2014 On Amazon.com
    Format:Kindle Edition
    This is standard practice for all written poetry - whether on paper or online. It's not hard to do - and shows poor conversion skills from paper to Kindle.
  3.  An Appropriate title 14 June, 2014 On Amazon.com
    Format:Kindle Edition
    Ms Ryan has the ability to penetrate into the subtleties and nuances of ordinary experiences and relationships and deploy them to captivate the reader in a direct and homey way.In language she has mastered brevity and rhythm,she knows the devious art of turning the weights and shapes and sounds of words into a spell that will change the reader's head. Did I mention humor? Her poems nudge you with an invisible elbow. Read ten of them and for awhile at least, you'll be more the way you like to be.
  4.  the pleasure grows with rereading 18 May, 2014 On Amazon.com
    Format:Paperback
    I love the the attention to the line in her poetry. I love the way she plays with rhyme, but the rhymes are not usually at line's end. I love her awareness of how surprising the world actually is and how she captures these surprises in her poems. And I love the humor in her poems. For example, in a poem called "The Mock Ruin," she writes about a Roman theater in Libya, where the most preserved part of the structure is a a backdrop for some performance. The last lines of the poem are " . . . Maybe there is something/ to falseness that doesn't get reported."
  5. 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
     Tinkling platitudes 30 May, 2013 On Amazon.com
    Format:Paperback
    Philosophy for infants ('Where is is/when is is was?'), this is both cutesy and prosaic. Take away the line breaks and what do you get? 'She seems unnatural by nature - too vivid and peculiar a structure to be pretty, and flexible to the point of oddity.' (That's six lines in the original.) 'No unguent can soothe the chap of abandonment' - why three lines? But portentous however you slice it. But I guess she's stuck with her shtick - a bit Williams, a bit Moore, more than a bit Dickinson. She's read - but has the woman lived? What she thinks musicality reeks of preciousness and shrieks constriction. (I'm even picking up her tinkling mid-line rhyme tic, which manages to trip you up while rendering bland*. Some feat.) '[W]ild horses.. are stretched by hills.' How so, ma'm? Only at page 37 still - and I'm gagging for Billy Collins. Sentimental to set your teeth on edge ('A certain kind of Eden holds us thrall'; some goddamn animal 'whom God protects'), Victorian without irony ('The idle are shackled/to their oars'). Our collective death-wish is impossible to survive without irony. Is that perhaps her trouble? The ones accepted by Poetry (Chicago) that gave Ryan cred in the first place are not included here. Curious..

    * or 'blandening' - Ryan's coinage
  6.  Food for the soul 26 February, 2013 On Amazon.com
    Format:Paperback
    lip-smacking poems, all of them ! Kay is a rollicking good read. Come and get it, you'll be glad you did.
  7.  The Undisputed Poet 25 January, 2013 On Amazon.com
    Format:Paperback
    Read from start to finish, then read it again. There is no poem that is not a delight to the mind, especially for those that hunger after great poetry. Ryan is up there with the best including Dickinson.
  8.  Here's the reason(s) she was our Poet Laureate.... 7 November, 2012 On Amazon.com
    Format:Kindle Edition
    These intelligent, witty evocative poems are a delight for the mind and soul...oughta be required reading (IMNHO - "in my never humble opinion")
  9. 0 of 5 people found this review helpful
     poems over my head 1 February, 2012 On Amazon.com
    Format:Kindle Edition
    I have written some short primitive poems and thought I would find this book of value. I did not. It is probably world class to those with a greater intellect but I found very little to like. I could not finish the book.
  10. 3 of 6 people found this review helpful
     Disappointing after the first poem. 4 November, 2011 On Amazon.com
    Format:Paperback
    Yep, you read right--the first poem. I bought this book solely based on the first one, "Odd Blocks," because it had a lot of depth to it, a ton of metaphor and distinction and self-awareness that makes you think about all those "monuments to randomness." Beautiful, thoughtful, poignant; couldn't ask for a better poem. I was surprised! Why had I never heard of this Kay Ryan before? Indeed, after buying it I was going to write a review which began, "It's rare that you feel you got your entire money's worth from a book just on the first page."

    Unfortunately that turned out to be a little too true. Little did I know that the rest of Kay Ryan's poems did not follow in the footsteps of this one. Most often they are subtle observations, but not simple in a good way, it's the simplicity on *this* side of complexity if you catch my drift; simplicity without meaning, simplicity without understanding, and a rhyme here and there almost as if it were the purpose. I initially spent a great deal of time looking, searching, digging; trying to find anything under the surface of each poem. Eventually I gave up. Oh yes, that's a tree. And now you're writing about your pen, and just your pen, oh and how your pen writes, and how one once compared it to a sword (oh, never read that before). Apologies for being cynical, but I really tried, and couldn't find, any value in most of these poems. They just left me with sort of a "huh" feeling, and eventually as though I had wasted my time. There are a lot of great poets out there elucidating ideas you never knew existed in ways you never thought possible, and they are worth your time; Kay Ryan appears to be a simple poet shedding light on what is already lit in tried and true ways. What's the point?

    Except for in that first one. And you can read it right here--click "First Pages" below the thumbnail above, and you'll be taken right to it. "Odd Blocks" is the best, and only good poem in this entire collection. Save your money and just read that one. Almost makes me wonder if she stumbled on that metaphor by mistake. If she were trying surely she would have succeeded a good three or four more times, but that's not the case in this collection. Sad.
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