News / USA

Poet Kay Ryan Named MacArthur Fellow

Genius awards come with $500,000 grant

Kay Ryan has been named one of 22 new MacArthur fellows.
Kay Ryan has been named one of 22 new MacArthur fellows.

Multimedia

Audio

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation named 22 new MacArthur fellows on Tuesday. They'll receive Genius awards, which come with a no-strings attached grant of $500,000 over five years.

The diverse grantees include a journalist, cellist, clinical psychologist, computer scientist and a former poet laureate of the United States, Kay Ryan, who also received a Pulitzer Prize this year. Ryan is well-known for her compact, vivid and accessible verse.

The high honors come as a bit of a surprise to the poet herself, who was raised in what she calls the “glamor-free, ocean-free, hot, stinky, oil-rich, potato-rich” San Joaquin Valley of California.

“I have to say that I didn’t want to be a poet and I still feel pretty embarrassed about it in a lot of situations because it seemed like putting on airs," Ryan says. "But I found that poetry was nonetheless possessing my mind. Like, if I read a book and it was prose, the prose would start rhyming, and it was kind of a little insanity taking me over.”

Ryan’s poems often explore every day human emotions such as hope, doubt and fear. She has a fluid, soaring imagination, as we see in the poem,“Killing Time.”

Time is rubbery.
If you hide it
in the shrubbery
it will wait
will winter and
wash back out
with the rainwater.
You will find it
on your steps again
like the newspaper.
Time compresses.
Stuff it in the
couch corner and
it will spring out
some night or other
when you have guests.  
One of whom guesses.
Time stretches.
Then it snaps back
leaving bare patches
that didn’t happen.
Abandoned time hardens
like hidden gun.
People feel around.
Sooner or later
it will be found.


Ryan has published seven collections of poetry, beginning with a self-published volume in 1983. But it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that she began to acquire a national reputation. In the meantime, she taught remedial English at a community college in Marin County, California, and lived quietly with her longtime spouse, Carol Adair, who died in January 2009.

Unlike many poets of her stature, Ryan has never been interested in the busy academic swirl of conferences and university life, or even in the high visibility her poet laureate post, her Pulitzer Prize and now, her MacArthur Genius grant have given her.

She says she is already “overly visited by the sensation and the ideas of others” and “would like peace from it most of the time.”

You May Like

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More