On Thursday, September 7th, 2006, I was among seven people who met to read poems by Ms. Kay Ryan. Although we live in mid-Michigan and Ms. Ryan lives in northern California, we met on the occasion of her birthday. Some of the group are regular members of the River Junction Poets, the poetry group in Saginaw (Michigan). We met at the Barnes & Noble bookstore on Tittabawassee Road. We met from 7 to 9 p.m. and learned a little about Ms. Ryan and her poetry. For instance, we learned that she enjoys teaching introductory writing at a college in northern California. We learned from Garrison Keillor's new show that she has a 'literary friendship' with Dana Gioia. And we observed that Ms. Ryan has a wide variety in her poems. Her poems sometimes have humor and sometimes they are philosophical. We read enough to see that much and more.
While we were there, we bought and signed a birthday card to send to Ms. Ryan. I took the card with me, and the next day I found her address online. I addressed the envelope and put the card in the mail. On September 15th I received a response from Ms. Ryan in my mailbox. How cool is that! Ms. Ryan addressed her card 'to the River Junction Poets c/o Andrew Christ.' She writes:
To the River Junction Poets of Saginaw - What a wonderful birthday surprise! I think you're great. Thanks. (signed) Kay Ryan 9-12-06
I particularly enjoyed that she underlined the word 'great' twice. On the other side of the card she added
'(This is a spare page from a fine-press book made by printing students in San Francisco.)'
On one side of the card is a poem titled 'Crustacean Island,' and on the other side of the card is a poem titled 'A Cat/A Future.'
There could be an island paradise
where crustaceans prevail.
Click, click, go the lobsters
with their china mitts and
It would not be sad like whales
with their immense and patient sieving
and the sobering modesty
of their general way of living.
It would be an island blessed
with only cold-blooded residents
and no human angle.
It would echo with a thousand castanets
and no flamencos.
A Cat/A Future
A cat can draw
behind her eyes
alters in the stare
itself but she's
not there. Likewise
a future can occlude:
still sitting there,
doing nothing rude.
Thank you Kay Ryan - no longer a stranger - another friend we haven't met yet.
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