u.s. poet laureate lauds value of community colleges: saving lives and saving minds

U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan: “I simply want to celebrate the fact that right near your home, year in and year out, a community college is quietly — and with very little financial encouragement — saving lives and minds. I can’t think of a more efficient, hopeful or egalitarian machine, with the possible exception of the bicycle. A community college is where a student can progress from learning to read … to learning to read poetry.”

In less than 90 seconds, Ryan eloquently captures the essence of our mission.

Listen here.

Ryan taught remedial English part time for 30 years at the College of Marin in Kentfield, Calif., which helped her develop a deep appreciation for the role community colleges play in making education accessible throughout the nation.

Concerning poetry itself, Ryan describes it as an intensely personal experience for both writer and reader: “Poems are transmissions from the depths of whoever wrote them to the depths of the reader,” she said.

Her many awards include: the 2005 Gold Medal for Poetry from the San Francisco Commonwealth Club; the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from The Poetry Foundation in 2004; a Guggenheim fellowship the same year; and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship as well as the Maurice English Poetry Award in 2001.

You can learn more about Ryan and her work here, here, here, here and here.

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