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Synthesizing Gravity: Selected Prose

by Kay Ryan

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Thanks to Edelweiss for my ARC.

Synthesizing Gravity is from the Pulitzer winning poet Kay Ryan. It collects a series of essays from over thirty years. The prose found within this volume of essays provides some, unsurprisingly, keen insights into a life in practice in art and poetry and literature. This expertly assembled collection of critical writing, reviews, and unpublished works too!

This collection provides unique insights into the mind of a poet. It's enlightening and a delightful read for those who love literature and especially poetry and those who seek to learn more about the art of poetry. It's insightful and powerful writing. I highly recommend. ( )
  modioperandi | May 21, 2020 |
Synthesizing Gravity: Selected Prose from Kay Ryan exceeded even my most optimistic expectations. Granted, I did expect to like this but I wasn't sure how much personal insight there would be into her own work versus commentary/interpretation of other's work. Turns out to be a delightful and thoughtful mixture of both.

While one can certainly sketch some form of poetics from these essays this is not a book designed to set forth some kind of theory, at least nothing that would be restrictive or exclusive. Any theory here is what readers can, reasonably, extract from Ryan's discussions of her own processes, how she imagines other poets to have been working, and how she interprets both specific poems and complete oeuvres.

What I took away from the book, among many things, was a better understanding of how a poet thinks, both about their own work and that of others. I know that the most lasting lessons I have learned about poetry have not been from courses constructed to teach me about poetry (though those courses were both instructive and enjoyable) but from discussions with poets about poetry. This book is like having several such discussions with an extremely accomplished poet.

While I would certainly recommend this to readers of poetry as well as poets, I think readers who might not think of themselves as liking poetry will also enjoy this collection. there are a few close readings of poems and a lot of discussion of the interface between life (personal and social) and art. Those discussions, while focused on the art of poetry, can easily be applied to art in general and any creative endeavor whatsoever.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley. ( )
  pomo58 | Mar 6, 2020 |
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