When, after being named U.S. Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan said, “All of us want instant success, I’m glad I was on a sort of slow drip,”  she summarized her journey as an artist and her capacity for patience.

We have spent this month of Poetry Fridays celebrating Ms. Ryan’s patience on the page.  Her sly and wry way of working small to get to the enormous is a gift to a nation that is fortunate to have her at the helm of our prosodic matters.  It’s been a joy to spend National Poetry Month with her and a privilege to have her permission to print a bouquet of her perennial poems.  We close the month with one of our favorites–for obvious reasons–in tribute to what her waiting brought to her and all of us.


Patience is
wider than one
once envisioned,
with ribbons
of rivers
and distant
ranges and
tasks undertaken
and finished
with modest
relish by
natives in their
native dress.
Who would
have guessed
it possible
that waiting
is sustainable—
a place with
its own harvests.
Or that in
time’s fullness
the diamonds
of patience
couldn’t be
from the genuine
in brilliance
or hardness.

Reprinted with permission from Say Uncle, Grove Press, New York. Copyright 2000 by Kay Ryan. “Patience” first appeared in The New Yorker.

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  • Shelley May 13, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    There was a wonderful profile of her a few weeks back in the New Yorker. Well worth reading….