The School of Humanities’ Author Series presented Michael Ryan on Wednesday, Nov. 13 to read from his latest collection of poetry “This Morning” at Humanities Gateway 1030.
At 6 p.m., people dressed semi-formally quickly filled up the room. As the director of UC Irvine’s Master of Fine Arts programs, Ryan has taught students on poetry and writing at UCI since 1990. Ryan’s compilation, “This Morning,” is a combination of urgency, intimacy and everyday life. A student of Ryan’s opened up the night by introducing Ryan to the audience and shared how Ryan inspired him to write.
“I’ll end this introduction with a simple ‘thank you.’ Thank you, Michael, for what you’ve given me, my peers, the MFA program and the wider UCI community over the past 22 years. And thank you also for sharing your work with us tonight.”
The 67-year-old man dressed in black with a dark green shirt tucked beneath thanked the audience for coming in his deep voice.
He first entertained the audience with the poem titled “Airplane Food,” which, according to Ryan, “was written um…when they still served meals on airplanes with your plane ticket…I’ll show you how old this is, although Michelle reminded me today that they still serve food on international flights. But not meals like this one.” Ryan’s humor instantly grabbed the audience’s attention, as he continued to read his poems related to everyday objects, “The Mug” and “Garbage Truck,” aloud and amazed many with his skills in crafting something so intricate and profound.
The poet delved deeper into life as he read another poem, “A Thank-You Note,” which was addressed to his friend John Skoyles. Line after line, Ryan revealed little by little the crisis that was close to his heart and showed the vulnerability with his carefully written words.
Some of the audience members attended the reading to meet a requirement for their writing classes at UCI. Monica Pelcastre, a junior currently taking the English 28D “Craft of Poetry,” came to the reading and felt completely blown away by Ryan’s work,
“The atmosphere is amazing in this great simple room. [Ryan] had his soul in his words. I’m still on a high right now…He’s an artist whom I truly admire. We don’t know anything about him but he’s able to show us things that are so personal and deep.”
The night ended with Michael’s last two poems “This Morning” and “Girls’ Middle School Orchestra,” both of which were about his daughter. When he finished the reading, the audience clapped for almost a minute. Walking toward the other side of the room, Ryan said, “Come buy my book” in a matter-of-fact tone that made people laugh again.
Ryan was the recipient of a number of national awards including the Whiting Writers’ Award, National Poetry Series and Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award .He also has written five poetry books including “God Hunger,” “Threats Instead of Trees,” “In Winter,” “New and Selected Poems,” and “This Morning.”