At the Visions and Voices event, Poetry: A Career?!, poet Kay Ryan read her work aloud and discussed her career with students in the audience on Monday.
Ryan expressed her intention for her poems to be read in silence because of the sacredness of the inner voice that the reader adds to the piece, but for the event Ryan verbally shared her poems with the audience.
As a child, Ryan said she had an easy time getting along with kids at school and did not struggle because she prided herself in being funny. At a young age, she began to consider herself a “word collector” because she would frequently challenge herself to never repeat the same words.
Ryan also started the habit of writing every day. Although she did not see herself associating well with the confessional and overtly sexy poetry of the time, Ryan finally accepted herself as a poet.
As she put it, “everything else failed me except trying to work in words.”
Ryan said she also strived to challenge herself mentally by she flipping through a deck of tarot cards and writing a poem about the image on each card.
Since rain was expected in Los Angeles that day, she read poems that had to do with rain or water. She read many of her poems twice to give the listener the opportunity to understand the meanings behind them.
Ryan spoke about her personal writing process, which takes place in the morning with caffeine and breakfast in bed. Though she often writes poems quickly, Ryan said “it could take 30 minutes to create something but 20 years to find it.”