Yesterday I received a message from a friend of mine telling me that Kay Ryan, former US Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, received the 2011 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. After taking an undergraduate seminar with Ms. Ryan, (knowledgeable, dry and witty, generous with her time, ostensibly soft-spoken, convicted) there is no doubt in my mind that her poetic talent warrants the $500,000 prize for continued creativity. She has, and will continue to be, a voice speaking out against established paths of success and notoriety, and one that uses language as both a tool and a gift. What surprises me more than Ms. Ryan’s talent (which I already had some idea of) is that a poet recieved this recognition, in an age that has marginalized its writers and artists. In her work, Ryan demonstrates that poetry is essential, and that we must continue to read it, love it, and believe in its power, with or without the half million to compensate. Enjoy Ryan’s “Tenderness and Rot,” or watch an interview with her here. Congratulations, Kay!