Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ruth Stone Is a Poet Worth Knowing

Ruth Stone has passed away at age 96, an inspiration to writers like me, who took up the sport after their youth was spent doing other things altogether.  Ruth, according to William Grimes, writing Nov 24, 2011, was relatively obscure until at 87, she won the National Book Award for her colletion, "In the Next Galaxy."  She was living in Vermont, a feat that I admire in its own right.  As I drifted into using a cane regularly and then into needing a disabled hang tag for my car, I gave thanks for good weather regularly.  I know there is good weather in Vermont, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't last all winter.   In my sixties, I might have simply fallen in love with my chair and sat there forever, should I live where the S word accumulates.  Not that I don't agree with those of you who think it is beautiful.  I recall a snowfall at Snow Mountain Ranch in Colorado, when I was pregnant with my son, when the crystals of snow floating down in the moonlight gave me that "I love you" catch in the back of my throat.  But back to Ruth Stone.  She lived in "rural solitude" near the end of her life; she had raised three daughters as a single parent after her poet husband committed suicide in 1959.  Her poetry was, to quote Mr. Grimes, "fierce and funny, by turns elegaic, scathing, lyric and colloquial."  He quoted a poem, as follows, "Things will be different/ No one will lose their sight,/their hearing, their gallbladder./ It will be all Catskills with brand/new wrap-around verandas."  It was the title poem in her collection entitled "In the Next Galaxy." In an interview in 2001, she said, "I was hanging laundry out and I saw all these ants crawling along the clothes line. Well I just dropped whatever I was hanging and ran upstairs in the house to get a book and write it down. Never keep a poem waiting.  It might be a really good one, and if you don't get it down it's lost."  I love that, because I still dream about certain pieces I never captured on paper. They were really good, I'm sure of that!      best, Laura