In the Next Galaxy

In the Next Galaxy

by Ruth Stone
     
 

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Ruth Stone has rightly been called America’s Akhmatova, and she is considered "Mother Poet" to many contemporary writers. In this, her eighth volume, she writes with crackling intelligence, interrogating history from the vantage point of an aging and impoverished woman. Wise, sardonic, crafty, and misleadingly simple, Stone loves heavy themes but loathes

Overview

Ruth Stone has rightly been called America’s Akhmatova, and she is considered "Mother Poet" to many contemporary writers. In this, her eighth volume, she writes with crackling intelligence, interrogating history from the vantage point of an aging and impoverished woman. Wise, sardonic, crafty, and misleadingly simple, Stone loves heavy themes but loathes heavy poems.

Shapes

In the longer view it doesn’t matter.
However, it’s that having lived, it matters.
So that every death breaks you apart.
You find yourself weeping at the door
of your own kitchen, overwhelmed
by loss. And you find yourself weeping
as you pass the homeless person
head in hands resigned on a cement
step, the wire basket on wheels right there.
Like stopped film, or a line of Vallejo,
or a sketch of the mechanics of a wing
by Leonardo. All pauses in space,
a violent compression of meaning
in an instant within the meaningless.
Even staring into the dim shapes
at the farthest edge; accepting that blur.

"Ruth Stone’s work is alternately witty, bawdy, touching, and profound. But never pompous. Her honesty and originality give her writing a sense of youth and newness because she looks at the world so clearly, without all the detritus of social convention the rest of us pick up along the way… Her writing proves her to be simply inspired."—USA Today

Ruth Stone was born in Virginia in 1915. She is author of eight books of poems and recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 1959, after her husband committed suicide, she was forced to raise three daughters alone. For twenty years she traveled the US, teaching creative writing at many universities, finally settling at SUNY Binghamton. She lives in Vermont.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The much-lauded octogenarian Stone keeps up her appealing, sadder-but-wiser lyricism as she surveys subjects from McCormick reapers to radio astronomy, from fractals to "folded wings" and the fatigue of age, in this eighth collection, her first since the National Book Critics Circle Award winner Ordinary Words (1999). Stone veers easily between compressed stories of her Virginia upbringing and her own life, on the one hand, and scenic Americana on the other, finding material in "New York mountain weather," roaming cats, "the railroad 's edge of metal trash." A third sort of Stone poem begins and ends in abstraction, finding spare lines for dejection or reflection, or asking, simply, "How can I live like this?" Stone's lifetime of craft permits her to pare down both description and meditation and, at her best, make startling use of short, slow lines and of occasional rhyme; standout lyric work like "Train Ride" or "At Eighty-Three She Lives Alone" recalls at once Stanley Kunitz and Kay Ryan, and should find a place in many anthologies. Stone's lesser poems can digress into mere jottings; she tends to top off her terse scenes and speculations with forceful (sometimes forced) closing statements, what she calls "severe abstract designs." Even those poems, however, reflect an observant and contemplative life, focused on simplicities of feeling, yet possessed of unfolding subtleties.
USA Today
Ruth Stone's work is alternately witty, bawdy, touching, and profound. But never pompous. Her honesty and originality give her writing a sense of youth and newness because she looks at the world so clearly, without all the detritus of social convention the rest of us pick up along the way... Her writing proves to be simply inspired.
Drunken Boat
Ruth Stone began late, achieving her most powerful works with maturity and continuing their scope and span into age where most poets fall into silence or repetition.
Library Journal
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1999 for Ordinary Words, Stone is now in her eighties, having published her first book of poetry when she was 44. Stone writes conversationally, with lyricism, honesty, wit, and plenty of focus on the passage of time. The suicide of her much-loved husband 40 years ago is a frequent theme, as are observations about aging (which she has achieved with great wisdom), the lives of her young students and neighbors, and ecological and political concerns. Stone notices and brings to her poems everyday items like marbles ("Held up to light,/ a small hole/ into another dimension"), an unplugged electric fan ("staring at the floor/ with the nonexpression of the working class/ temporarily laid off"), and cabbages ("blooms like Rubens nudes"). Her uses of subtle and occasional rhyme, off-rhyme, and inner rhyme are delicate and always appropriate. Highly recommended.-Judy Clarence, California State Univ. Lib., Hayward

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781556591785
Publisher:
Copper Canyon Press
Publication date:
05/01/2002
Pages:
110
Sales rank:
1,264,964
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Poems
When you come back to me
it will be crow time
and flycatcher time,
with rising spirals of gnats
between the apple trees.
Every weed will be quadrupled,
coarse, welcoming
and spine-tipped.
The crows, their black flapping
bodies, their long calling
toward the mountain;
relatives, like mine,
ambivalent, eye-hooded;
hooting and tearing.
And you will take me in
to your fractal meaningless
babble; the quick of my mouth,
the madness of my tongue.

Meet the Author


Ruth Stone is the author of nine books of poetry, for which she has received the National Book Award, the Wallace Stevens Award, a National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Shelley Memorial Award. She taught creative writing at many universities, finally settling at SUNY Binghamton. She lives in Vermont.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Goshen, Vermont and Binghamton, New York
Date of Birth:
June 8, 1915
Place of Birth:
Roanoke, Virginia
Education:
University of Illinois (no degree); B.A., Radcliffe Institute of Independent Study at Harvard University

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