Ruth Stone, the St. Teresa of Avila of Poetry

Poet Ruth Stone died last week. I liked Ruth Stone, mostly because in an interview with Sandra Gilbert, (later referenced in a TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert) she described the experience of writing a poem as a physical, ecstatic sensation: “It was a kind of peculiar ecstasy…A physical rush coming through. And then the poem would write itself. And I would write it from the inside out, upside down, bottom up, everything. I mean, the thing knew itself already. I didn’t know it. I didn’t know it, it just appeared, it would just all come out. And I can remember running into the house, blindly groping for pencil and paper.” I love that. Ruth Stone, the St. Teresa of Avila of Poetry. I found that quote, by the way, in This House is Made of Poetry: the art of Ruth Stone.

Here is a brief (very brief) tribute to her on NPR.

Unfortunately, I am only recently discovering the bulk of her work, including this wonderful little poem:


We pop into life the way
particles pop in and out
of the continuum.
We are a seething mass
of probability.
And probably I love you.
The evil of larva
and the evil of stars
is a formula for the future.
Some bodies can
thrust their arms into
a flame and be instantly
cured of this world,
while others sicken.
Why think, little brother
like the moon, spit out like
a broken tooth.
“Oh,” groans the world.
The outer planets,
the fizzing sun, here we come
with our luggage.
Look at the clever things
we have made out of
a few building blocks—
O, fabulous continuum.

-Ruth Stone

(from What Love Comes To: New and Selected Poems, which was a Pulitzer finalist)


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