Books by Tracy Ryan

Released: May 22, 2000

"Written in free verse and in mostly short lines, Ryan's poems are spare, straightforward, and rarely lyrical. The best, like the two quoted above, make subtle connections between art and life, reality and illusion."
One of the younger generation of Australian-born writers, Ryan (who now lives in England) has published two books of poetry and a novel. A note in the recent anthology, New Blood (p. 434), describes her verse as "a flayed poetry, open to the shocks and pleasures of seeing and daily life, driven by a fascination with the shifting and precarious boundaries between the self and the world." Here, too, daily life, marriage, motherhood, and the physical world furnish subject matter; however, instead of establishing a firm perception of reality, these everyday subjects continuously fool the eye. Describing objects in a painting of a tabletop by the 18th-century super-realist Boilly, Ryan observes: "It's as if the picture / were failing / through lack of someone's / faith / but who is it asking? / Who was that letter meant for / & what were the downturned cards / about to tell? / Our fingers want / to pick them up / but slip on glaze / rebarbative as mirrors." A visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was constructed in a circular shape rather than the traditional one of the cross, evokes thoughts of Escher, another maker of eye- and mind-teasing images. Ryan imagines early Christians on a pilgrimage to the Round Church: "Still they move round, / invisible, the blind / leading the blind / without falling, / their hope encoded, blunt / in Norman stone." Read full book review >