So by now everyone should have heard that Kay Ryan was chosen as the 16th poet laureate of the United States, following Charles Simic.

What’s striking about Ms. Ryan is that she never set out to be a public poet in the way that many who take on laureateships are expected. Hers is a story that may resonate with many poets here at the Center. At 62, one might say her virtue is perseverance. Ms. Ryan told the Washington Post that it took eight years to get a poem accepted at a serious poetry magazine and 10 more to get into the New Yorker.

Here’s a poem of hers titled “Patience”:


By Kay Ryan


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.