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Form and Meter
Free Verse"Turtle" is written in free verse. Kay Ryan has a simple explanation for why she doesn't use formal rhyme schemes or traditional metrical patterns. "I don't have the gift for it," she say...
Like most of Kay Ryan's poetry, "Turtle" is written in the third person, and the speaker remains unidentified. Sometimes charged with writing "anti-confessional" verse, Ryan acknowledges that she p...
In terms of setting, Kay Ryan doesn't give us a whole lot to go on: "Turtle" offers few details relating to place and time. And we can't rely much on general background knowledge about turtles, as...
Kay Ryan is not interested in formal rhyme schemes, but she's famous for her virtuoso manipulation of slant rhyme (in which the matching sounds are approximate rather than precise) as well as her b...
What's Up With the Title?
Unlike some poems, "Turtle" does not have a mysterious title. On the face of it, the title is completely straightforward—a simple signpost to the topic of the poem. As you prepare to read the poe...
Clown SuitcaseKay Ryan is often praised for her "big little poems." The poems are little because, like "Turtle," they typically don't have many lines. Plus, the lines themselves are often short. Ev...
(3) Base CampReading "Turtle" is not an extreme sport. When you start out, you have a reasonably good idea of where you're going and how to get there. The trail is not too steep, and the hike doesn...
As a student at UCLA, Kay Ryan submitted some poems to the college's poetry club, but they were rejected. Ryan says she "leaped away, mortally stung" and afterward "stayed pretty remote from the jo...
GRated G, "Turtle" is appropriate for general audiences. We don't have any information about the turtle's social life, but she appears to be a single gal. Who knows, though—maybe she does get lon...
Literary and Philosophical ReferencesThere aren't any specific Shout-Outs in this poem, with the possible exception of the title. How's that, you ask? Check this out:Turtles have lived on planet ea...
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