Oct 8, 2010

KAY RYAN, "The Edges of Time"

Excerpt: 'The Best Of It' : NPR

Today I heard Kay Ryan read "The Edges of Time" and discuss poetry in general, and I'm back to being an acolyte. Ryan mentioned Emily Dickinson as one of her heroes (first Hopkins, she said--for exposing new ways to stretch language -- then Donne and Dickinson). Like Ryan, E.D. explores the far corners of the mind, with ususual curiosity and apparent accuracy, catching this or that shading or oddness in a psyche or a mental process. Those adventures within and about the human mind plus the shared penchant for precise, sharp language are the two most prominent features that Ryan and E.D. share.

Well, there is also their brevity. In an age when poets (as well as fiction writers) feel free to go on and on, Ryan and Dickinson seem to feel an honorable obligation to density, richness, and power of language--finding the word that is just right--precise, interesting, original, quirky, the word that throws a genuinely new, legitimate, and important light (or darkness) on a subject.

Feel free to look at the other two poems, of course, ("Home to Roost" has appeared here before); however "The Edges of Time" is my primary interest today.

Excerpt: 'The Best Of It' : NPR


Brenda's Arizona said...

"It is at the edges
that time thins."
Is she saying that waiting time is like a sinusoidal wavelength? When you start to wait, you are patient. Time means nothing. The hours of waiting are thick, dense, vicious. Then, as your time runs out, it is thin again. At the edges, it is thin.

The edges of time. Imagine awaiting a loved one's surgery. The beginning is easy. Time is thin. Then the LONG LONG hours of waiting are dense and anxious - something you can't cut through.
And the end - you know the verdict is about to be presented - and time once again is thin. Time suddenly has no density. At the edges of waiting, time isn't there. But in the middle of waiting, you have 'too much' time.

As opposed to ED and Kay Ryan, my brevity isn't.

Banjo52 said...

Brenda, you know perfectly well that I flunked brevity too, and I'm about to prove it once more.

To the extent that I understand “sinusoidal wave” (after Wiki-ing it), I think I see the connection.

In any case, I like your example. I don’t know about “the beginning is easy,” but there is a thickening, and at the end, there certainly seems to be a change in the quality of time—and perception. After a thickness of time, too much of it, as it begins to end, and thin, images, statements, words scramble around and fly off, in and/or toward thinness, or at least some kind of less substantial, probably less rational, outer edge.

Or is it a supra-rational adrenalin rush, and we manage to grasp only what’s essential? The chaff goes flying out? The more I think about your scenario, the more I like it.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

You don't mind if I sit in the back of the class and just listen?

I too picked up on the line "It is at the edges
that time thins" but more so because I see it. It's visual. Brenda's explanation gave me a way to hinge it to something concrete. And yes, we know the wait

Banjo52 said...

PA, relating visually is probably a good thing, and I say "probably" only to be cautious. Also, if we feel there's more to it, we can keep coming back. That's one thing that art and poetry definitely share.

Lovers' Lane