Kay Ryan biography

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Kay Ryan
Photo: C. Hernandez

Kay Ryan

Kay Ryan Biography

Kay Ryan, United States Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, was born in California in 1945 and grew up in the small towns of the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert. She received both a bachelor's and master's degree from UCLA. Since 1971, she has lived in Marin County in Northern California.

Ryan has published several collections of poetry, including The Niagara River (Grove Press, 2005); Say Uncle (2000); Elephant Rocks (1996); Flamingo Watching (1994), which was a finalist for both the Lamont Poetry Selection and the Lenore Marshall Prize; Strangely Marked Metal (1985); and Dragon Acts to Dragon Ends (1983). A re-issue of her 2002 collection, Believe It or Not!, poems inspired by stories from the newspaper cartoon Ripley's Believe It or Not!, has recently been re-released and re-titled as The Jam Jar Lifeboat & Other Novelties Exposed, (Red Berry Editions 2008). Ryan's first European collection, Odd Blocks: Selected and New Poems was published in England in August 2011. Her most recent collection, The Best of It: New and Selected Poems, was nominated for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in April, 2011.

Ryan's awards include the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Award, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Union League Poetry Prize, the Maurice English Poetry Award, four Pushcart Prizes, and the MacArthur "Genius" Award. Her work has been selected four times for The Best American Poetry and was included in The Best of the Best American Poetry 1988-1997. In early 2013 she was the recipient of the Fred Cody Award for Lifetime Achievement in Community and Literature. In July 2013 she was awarded the 2012 National Humanities Medal by President Obama.

Ryan's poems and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poetry, The Yale Review, Paris Review, The American Scholar, The Threepenny Review, Parnassus, among other journals and anthologies. Ryan was elected a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets in 2006. In 2008, Ryan was appointed the Library of Congress's sixteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.

This biography was last updated on 01/17/2014.

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The Best of It jacket
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All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Kay Ryan but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
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  • Margaret Atwood

    Margaret Atwood

    Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa, and grew up in northern Ontario and Quebec, and in Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Best of It

    Try:
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  • Amy Clampitt

    Amy Clampitt

    Amy Clampitt was born on June 15, 1920, and brought up in New Providence, Iowa. After graduating from Grinnell College, she moved to New York. It was not until she was in her forties that she started publishing poetry.

    ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Best of It

    Try:
    Selected Poems
    by Amy Clampitt

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