U.S. Poet Laureate visits LaGuardia CC

More than 300 students, faculty, staff and community members filled LaGuardia Community College’s Little Theatre to hear from a special guest – U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan.
Ryan, who graduated community college and has been a teacher at the College of Marin: Kentfield Community College in California, treated the audience to readings of her poetry.
“It’s a big deal, not just for LaGuardia, not just for Long Island City, but for poetry,” said LaGuardia Community College Interim President Peter Katopes. “We are thrilled she chose LaGuardia Community College as the New York venue in which to share her poems.”
LaGuardia Community College English Professor Kristen Gallagher got the idea to bring Ryan to the school last year, and spent many hours planning Ryan’s visit.
“Ms. Ryan’s path to poetry was not a traditional one, and LaGuardia students can relate to that kind of struggle,” said Gallagher, who introduced Ryan during her October 27 visit.
During the afternoon, Ryan talked about her thought process behind the poems she read, and then took questions afterwards that ranged from where and how she works to why she chose to pursue poetry at age 19 only to give it up and return to it at 30.
In anticipation of Ryan’s visit, LaGuardia faculty had their students engage in a number of creative projects that were inspired by her work including having students, faculty and staff translate Ryan’s poem “Say Uncle” into their native languages. The translated poems, bound in a book by LaGuardia’s own Student Poet Laureate, Greem Lee, will be presented to Ryan.
“These projects reflect what I’ve been saying about community college in my terms as Poet Laureate,” Ryan said. “The quality of instruction and the breadth of the student body is unmeasured. They are seriously under-funded, too.”

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