Simplicity

Overview

Winner of the Pushcart Prize for Poetry

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Overview

Winner of the Pushcart Prize for Poetry

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780963818317
  • Publisher: Paris Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1996
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Ruth Stone

Ruth Stone was born in 1915 in Roanoke, Virginia. Her numerous honors include the Bunting Fellowship, two Guggenheim Fellowships, the Delmore Schwartz Award, Shelley Memorial Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award (for Ordinary Words), and the National Book Award. She lives in Vermont.

Biography

"I'm just as glad I'm not a star," Ruth Stone said in a 1999 interview with the poet Rebecca Seiferle. Sometimes described as obscure -- or, more kindly, as "a poet's poet" -- Stone thought her obscurity gave her a kind of freedom in her work. That was before she won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Ordinary Words and the National Book Award for In the Next Galaxy. Now well into her eighties, Ruth Stone has become a star poet, after all.

Poetry was a part of Stone's childhood in the literate, artistic household in which she grew up. Her mother read Tennyson to her when she was a baby, and her musician father would read from the King James Bible. Stone began writing poems when she was five years old; her father, who also worked as a typesetter, would sometimes print her poems on a linotype machine and bring them home. Several of her prize-winning poems were printed in actual newspapers while she was in grade school, but Stone was 44 when her first book, In an Iridescent Time, appeared in 1959.

In that same year, Stone's husband, the poet and novelist Walter Stone, committed suicide while on leave from his teaching post at Vassar College. Stone was left to raise their three daughters alone, and her poetry changed as dramatically as her life. "For the next decade, Ruth Stone moved in and out of periods of deep depression and despair, and Walter Stone's life and death became a nearly constant presence in the poetry of Ruth Stone," wrote Jan Freeman in a biographical essay. To support herself and her daughters, Stone took a variety of teaching jobs at colleges and universities across the country, serving as a mentor and inspiration to so many budding writers (including Jan Freeman, Toi Derricotte and Sharon Olds) that she's been termed a "Mother Poet." Stone was able to buy a ramshackle house in Vermont with the proceeds from an award, and the house -- where "winter demands a vital patience" -- figures frequently in her poems.

Stone's work has come to be characterized not only by a deep sense of loss, but by a sharp, sometimes cynical, often quite funny view of human society. She has paid special attention to the disadvantaged and disenfranchised, and has often noted the ways in which women are still marginalized in certain male-dominated arenas. ("At the doughnut shop/twenty-three silver backs are lined up at the bar,/sitting on the stools," she writes in "Male Gorillas.") It's fair to call Stone a feminist poet, even a political poet, but she reaches her reader through plain-spoken observation rather than heated polemics. Her poems are full of the ordinary people, places and events of American life; one publisher lists her subjects as "trailer parks, state parks, prefab houses, school crossing guards, bears, snakes, hummingbirds, bottled water, Aunt Maud, Uncle Cal, lost love, dry humping at the Greyhound bus terminal, and McDonald's as a refuge from loneliness."

This preoccupation with the local and particular is balanced by an interest in the nature of the physical universe. Stone is an avid reader of science writing, and often transforms scientific fact into poetic metaphor, whether it's photons and fractals or a lowly tomato caterpillar carrying parasite wasp eggs. Her subject matter is seldom high-flown, yet the music she coaxes from "ordinary words" often soars. "Sly, subtle, exuberant, poignant, bawdy and bitter" (as Sandra Gilbert wrote), Stone certainly deserves her belated fame.

Good To Know

After teaching creative writing at so many universities that Willis Barnstone suggested she might hold "a record for teacher vagabondage," Stone finally settled down at SUNY-Binghamton, where she is now professor emerita.

When she's not at Binghamton, Stone lives in Vermont in a "house with 5,000 books in it," as she told an interviewer for Poetic Voices. She has three grown daughters and seven grandchildren.

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

Table of Contents

Look to the Future 1
Against Loss 2
Ripple Effect 3
Plumbing 4
It Follows 6
That Winter 8
Putting It Off 11
For Eight Women 12
You May Ask 14
Resonance 15
The Wound 16
The News 17
That Day 18
Things I Say to Myself While Hanging Laundry 19
Theology 21
Nuns at Lunch on the Bus 22
Rocks Rising 24
The Usual 25
The Woman in the TV 26
Metamorphosis 27
The Question 28
Possibly 29
Medium for Stasis 30
The Sperm and the Egg 37
Talking to the Dead 39
A Comparison 41
Isolation 42
Victorian Lamp on My Desk 44
Deja Vu 45
The Game 46
Love and Money 47
Prophets 48
Bird in the Gilberts' Tree 49
About Rabbits 50
We Are All Particles of This 51
Feathers 52
The Ungrateful 53
Rotten Sample 54
Split, Conjugate, Whatever 55
Nursery Rhyme 56
As Miracles Go 57
A Very Stretched Sennett 58
Flash 59
Order and Design 60
On the Way 61
Ritual 62
Otherwise 63
Other 64
As I Remember 66
The System 68
Getting There 69
How It Came to Be 70
The Lost World 71
Leaving New York With Harry 72
A Love Like Ours 73
Living Space 74
Trash 76
Sleeping Beauty IV 77
The Mothers 78
The Sad Voice of the Hubble 80
The Unplanted 81
The Journey 82
In the Fast Lane 83
In the Time It Takes to Eat a Persimmon 84
Another Report 86
Good Friday on the Bus 88
The Real Southwest by Greyhound 89
December USA 90
For My Dead Red-Haired Mother 92
Simplicity 93
Lullaby 94
The Mother's Eyes 95
The Artist 96
From the Window 97
Columbus, Ohio 98
Music 99
After Winter 100
The Others 101
Looking for Signs 102
The Cord 103
That Moment 104
Finding Myself 105
Coffee and Sweet Rolls 106
The Solution 108
Scheherazade Is Mailed and Nailed in Five Days 109
Once More 115
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