New U.S. poet laureate, Kay Ryan, is a lesbian

Kay Ryan, newly named poet laureate

Arguably more interesting than her sexual orientation is the tidbit that when newly crowned U.S. poet Laureate Kay Ryan was rejected from the Poetry Club as an undergraduate at UCLA.

While the New York Times article profiling the newly recognized writer certainly doesn’t make a big deal out of her relationship with partner Carol Adair, I would argue that I am rather proud this top metaphor-crafter spot has gone to one of our own.

Yet, it isn’t terribly unusual to see us queers pop up on the literary scene. And upon perusal of the list of former title holders, I have to wonder at the level of queerness so many of our former wordsmiths may have embraced.

So, instead of droning on about the inconsequential questions about whether this California resident plans to marry, or any other commentary on her sexual orientation or proclivities let’s just congratulate her and give a snippet from the NYT on how she is reacting to the news.

Known for her sly, compact poems that revel in wordplay and internal rhymes, Ms. Ryan has won a carriage full of poetry prizes for her funny and philosophical work, including awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and in 2004, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, worth $100,000.

Still, she has remained something of an outsider.

“I so didn’t want to be a poet,” Ms. Ryan, 62, said in a phone interview from her home in Fairfax, Calif. “I came from sort of a self-contained people who didn’t believe in public exposure, and public investigation of the heart was rather repugnant to me.”

But in the end “I couldn’t resist,” she said. “It was in a strange way taking over my mind. My mind was on its own finding things and rhyming things. I was getting diseased.”

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