Abrupt, pared-back, given to juxtapositions that reshape the urban world her poetry evokes with satirical insight and a dry wicked humour, Ryan’s poetry is no easy thing.
There is an inwardness to Ryan’s work, somewhere between revelry and a caustic self-regard, that peels back the subject while also peeling back the accretions of language and culture that form the subject. She couples the vernacular of the urban with a fitful journey through Western myths, consumer culture and references to a suburban world that often appears as an underworld, an emaciated hell (see ‘Interest Rates’ and the grimly funny ‘Global Rewards Redemption Centre’). Middle-class preoccupations – interest rates, mortgage, the kids – provide a backdrop, if not target, for a poetry not given to mercy or vain sentimentality.
Along the razor of its depiction of inner-city life, there is a mournfulness, both bleak and filled with honest emotion, in much of Ryan’s work. More the demotic of a dystopia than the vernacular of a republic, Ryan’s use of language – its truncation, tautness and drama – cuts equally across the body politic and the scene of poetry. Throughout all of this, her humour, insight and tight music both test and engage the reader. She gives street-learning a classical voice; post-modernism, experience.
His desert bequest
The Global Rewards Redemption Centre
Ode to Trouble
The Division of Anger, 1981
Manners of an Astronaut, 1984
The Last Interior, 1986
Pure and Applied, 1998
Heroic Money, 2001
Disband: Six Goodbyes, 1988
Driving Past: Real Estate, 1999
Driving Past: +CD, 2001
The author reading from her work.