Kay Ryan, a former Poet Laureate of the United States and a career English teacher at College of Marin, was honored by President Barrack Obama at the White House recently. Obama, who counts himself among Ryan’s loyal readers, honored her as one of 24 recipients of the 2012 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medals.
“One of the special privileges of this office is getting a chance to honor individuals who’ve played an important role in my life as well as in the nation’s life,” Obama said in presenting the medals.
I have had the pleasure of hearing Ryan read her poetry several times and she has a dry wit and plain way with often-fancy words. I once heard her poems described as mousetraps, because they look simple and then – snap! – they’ve got you.
In 2008, the New York Times published this portfolio of her poetry, still available online for your reading pleasure. (Hint: For maximum pleasure, read them aloud, even if you’re alone.)