Yesterday, Washington City Paper ran an "Exit Interview" with outgoing U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan, whose book of new and selected poems, The Best of It, has been steadily blowing my mind. Ryan is a master technician of language and imagery. Her interview got me thinking: why doesn't Russia have its own poet laureate? (At the peak of his popularity, Yevtushenko may have been the closest thing.) Does Russia lack a laureateship because the role of the poet there has traditionally been defined in opposition to the state? Not that American poets are lining up to write another "Praise Song for the Day." Not even Ryan.
When the Washington City Paper interviewer asked Ryan what plans she had for the near future, she replied, "I plan to do a lot more bicycle riding. I got a beautiful new bike and am looking forward to riding it more. I also want to do more woolgathering—idle rumination, daydreaming—which is absolutely essential for poetry, and which I can do on the bicycle."