Widowed in her 40s and little known for years after, Ruth Stone became one of the country’s most honored poets in her 80s and 90s, winning the National Book Award in 2002 for “In the Next Galaxy” and being named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for “What Love Comes To.” She received numerous other citations, including a National Book Critics Circle award, two Guggenheims and a Whiting Award.
In a lovely obit, Hillel Italie writes:
Her poems were brief, her curiosity boundless, her verse a cataloguing of what she called “that vast/confused library, the female mind.” She considered the bottling of milk; her grandmother’s hair, “pulled back to a bun”; the random thoughts while hanging laundry (Einstein’s mustache, the eyesight of ants).
“I think my work is a natural response to my life,” she once said. “What I see and feel changes like a prism, moment to moment; a poem holds and illuminates. It is a small drama. I think, too, my poems are a release, a laughing at the ridiculous and songs of mourning, celebrating marriage and loss, all the sad baggage of our lives. It is so overwhelming, so complex.”
The Poetry Foundation described Stone as “an important, if relatively unknown, American poet.”
Commenting on the “odd neglect” of this “major talent, “Sandra Gilbert mused in Women’s Review of Books that “sheer bad luck” is in part to blame for Stone’s obscurity.
You can read more about Stone’s work and life here.