Tonic and rebuke
New and Selected Poems
by Gig Ryan
Giramondo, $26.95 pb, 224 pp, 9781920882662
Gig Ryan is something of a postmodern classicist, deftly balancing John Ashbery’s slippery indeterminacy and Anne Carson’s lyric innovation. She is also a complete original. It is difficult to think of another poet who has more consistently and resolutely fashioned beauty from flat, broken English. Book after book, Ryan has given herself the demanding task of working without the net of conventional syntax and sentence structure while refusing to eschew meaning. In other words, she wants it both ways: the political resistance of denatured language and the stinging precision of socially engaged satire. How she manages to achieve both is the story of this book.