From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.



by Kay Ryan

Analysis: Calling Card

Clown Suitcase

Kay 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. Even many of the words are short and familiar, reinforcing the impression of something small and simple and accessible. But Ryan's poems are also "big" in the sense that they are packed with ideas, including deep and wide-ranging thoughts about the meaning of life, as well as densely interwoven sounds and images that further enrich our experience of the poems.

Actually, Kay Ryan said it best. (She usually does, as a matter of fact; reading her commentary about poetry is almost as fun as reading the poems themselves!) For her, a poem is "an empty suitcase that you can never quit emptying." In fact, "It's a clown suitcase: the clown flips open the suitcase and pulls out a ton of stuff." For those of us who are scared of clowns, it might be better to picture Mary Poppins pulling full-sized furniture out of her small but bottomless carpet bag, but you get the idea.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...