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American Life in Poetry: Pinhole

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American Life in Poetry: Pinhole
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Kay Ryan was our nation's Poet Laureate at The Library of Congress for the 2008-2010 terms. Her poetry is celebrated for its compression; she can get a great deal into a few words. Here's an example of a poem swift and accurate as a dart.



We say


A pin hole

of light. We

can't imagine

how bright

more of it

could be,

the way

this much

defeats night.

It almost

isn't fair,


poked this,

with such

a small act

to vanquish


American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2011 by Kay Ryan, whose most recent book of poems is Odd Blocks, Selected and New Poems, Carcanet Press, 2011. Poem reprinted from Poetry, October 2011, by permission of Kay Ryan and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2012 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.