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Biography Kay Ryan

U.S. Poet Laureate, 2008-2010

Kay Ryan, U.S. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, 2008-2010. Photo credit: Houston’s

Kay Ryan was born in 1945 in San Jose, California, and grew up in the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert. She received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles. Since 1971, Ryan has lived in Marin County. She is the author of many poetry collections, including Erratic Facts (2015), The Best of It: New and Selected Poems (2010), for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; The Niagara River (2005); Say Uncle (2000); Elephant Rocks (1996); Flamingo Watching (1994); Strangely Marked Metal (1985); and Dragon Acts to Dragon Ends (1983).

Kay Ryan’s honors include a MacArthur Genius Grant, a National Humanities Medal, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, and a Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Her project as laureate, “Poetry for the Mind’s Joy,” included a poetry-writing contest, a video conference with students at community colleges, and designation of April 1 as Community College Poetry Day. The events were sponsored by the Library, in collaboration with the Community College Humanities Association.  Since 2006, she has been a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Webcasts with Kay Ryan

Selected Works at the Library of Congress