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What Love Comes To: New & Selected Poems [Paperback]

Ruth Stone
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 April 2009
Ruth Stone once said, 'I decided very early on not to write like other people.' "What Love Comes to" shows the fruits of this resolve in the lifetime's work of a true American original. The winner of the National Book Award at the age of 87, Ruth Stone was still writing extraordinary poetry well into her 90s. This comprehensive selection includes early formal lyrics, fierce feminist and political poems, and meditations on her husband's suicide, on love, loss, blindness and aging. "What Love Comes to" opens up her own particular world of serious laughter; of uncertainty and insight; of mystery and acceptance. The book has a foreword by Sharon Olds, who 'had the joy of meeting Ruth Stone' as a teenager, a later encounter giving her 'a vision of a genius at work': 'Ruth Stone's poems are mysterious, hilarious, powerful. They are understandable, often with a very clear surface, but not simple - their intelligence is crackling and complex - She is a poet of great humor - mockery even - and a bold eye, not obedient. There is also disrespect in her poems, a taken freedom, that feels to me like a strength of the disenfranchised. Ruth's poems are direct and lissome, her plainness is elegant and shapely, her music is basic, classical: it feels as real as the movement of matter. When we hear a Stone first line, it is as if we have been hearing this voice in our head all day, and just now the words become audible. She is a seer, easily speaking clear truths somehow unmentioned until now - She has a tragic deadpan humor: love and destruction are right next to each other - Ruth Stone's poems, in their originality and radiance, their intelligence and music and intense personal politics, shine in their place within her generation, among the pioneering women (Bishop, Brooks, Rukeyser) - Ruth Stone's poems are the food the spirit craves.' Poetry Book Society Recommendation

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bloodaxe Books Ltd (10 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852248416
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852248413
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 683,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Her poems startle us over and over with their shapeliness, their humor, their youthfulness, their wild aptness, their strangeness, their sudden familiarity, the authority of their insights, the moral gulps they prompt, their fierce exactness of language and memory. --Galway Kinnell

Ruth Stone is a true US original. Now aged 93 and almost blind, she is still writing poetry of extraordinary variety and radiance - fierce feminist and political poems and hilarious send-ups, meditations on ageing, love and loss. I had the privilege of meeting her in September, just after reading the American edition of WHAT LOVE COMES TO, by far the most spirited, mysterious, wise, funny, defiant and deeply moving book of poetry that I have read in ages. --Neil Astley, Morning Star (Books of the Year)

Ruth Stone is a true US original. Now aged 93 and almost blind, she is still writing poetry of extraordinary variety and radiance - fierce feminist and political poems and hilarious send-ups, meditations on ageing, love and loss. I had the privilege of meeting her in September, just after reading the American edition of WHAT LOVE COMES TO, by far the most spirited, mysterious, wise, funny, defiant and deeply moving book of poetry that I have read in ages. --Neil Astley, Morning Star (Books of the Year)

About the Author

Ruth Stone was born in Virginia in 1915, and lived in rural Vermont for much of her life. In 1959, after her husband committed suicide, she had to raise three daughters alone, all the time writing what she called her 'love poems, all written to a dead man' who forced her to 'reside in limbo' with her daughters. For 20 years she travelled the US, teaching creative writing at many universities. A greatly loved teacher, she was still working into her 80s. She won many awards and honours, including the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Eric Mathieu King Award from the Academy of American Poets, a Whiting Award (with which she bought plumbing for her house), two Guggenheim Fellowships (one of which roofed the house), the Delmore Schwartz Award, the Cerf Lifetime Achievement Award from the state of Vermont, and the Shelley Memorial Award. She died in 2011, aged 96.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an essential book 27 May 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What Love Comes To is a major achievement. In publishing terms, it is a beautiful book, with a gorgeous cover, generously set, to show to best advantage this collection of astonishing poetry that spans this 87 year old American's career. I wish I had discovered Ruth Stone years ago.
Sharon Olds, it seems, is the sole representative allowed to flourish in the UK of a certain wonderful kind of American poetry: the apparently plain-speaking but never simple poetry, which is sensual but speaks also to the intellect. This is a book where virtuoso use of language and wisdom meet: here we have 357 pages of poems which exhilarate in the possibilities they offer. How wonderful that this poet brings such freshness to poetry, even in her eighth decade: this is writing stripped of the narrowness and pretension that cripples so much of our UK writing. Ruth Stone writes accessibly of love, of lived experience, of ordinary life; but her poems are anything but ordinary. Attentive, wayward, and above all intelligent, they take possession of you. You will return to this book again and again, with pleasure and understanding; like me you will wonder where she's been all your life.
Sharon Olds introduces the book and gives some context for the Ruth Stone novice, which is very helpful. What is particularly interesting is that the new collection, after which the whole book is named, is as vigorous and fascinating as the selections from her earlier books, which go all the way back to 1959. Age has not wearied her, nor drearied her; an exhilarating aspect of her work in itself. I can't recommend this book highly enough. It's my desert island book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Keeper 3 May 2014
Rather on the large side for a selected but nowise a collected, this is one of those curious beasts a New and.. If you're new to Stone's work and you begin at the beginning, you're liable to be put off. Save the recent work for later, skip the first two books and launch right in with Cheap, or maybe towards the end of Topography - around page 100 anyway. At the end you can turn back to read the late work. By then, if you're like me, you'll be hungry for everything she's written - a modest voice, perhaps, but an enduring one
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deserving of a Pulitzer 25 Jun 2008
By Burgess Needle - Published on Amazon.com
Deserving of a Pulitzer
Copper Canyon Press. 357 pages. c. 2008
Reviewed by Burgess Needle,June 24, 2008
Reading Ruth Stone's poetry is falling through Alice's magic hole and coming out into a world that's been refreshed, redesigned and realigned. The natural world will never look the same to you after Ruth Stone's poetry because you've seen the world through the eyes of a wolverine and the universe from an exploding star. Love in all its crackling flashing surfaces will surprise you again in ways you thought had been lost forever. Ruth Stone's poetry validates string theory: we're all here, there and someplace else at the same time. Buy this book, fall into it, let it envelop you. In the end, part of you returns from a parallel universe, but part of you stays there forever because Ruth Stone's poetry gives you a clarity of vision you never knew you needed and so many blurry, sepia shapes previously familiar and common are suddenly in focus and startle you with true color. In her poem "Memory" Ruth Stone asks, "Can it be that / memory is useless, / like a torn web / hanging in the wind?..." That poems continues on its own path, but this reviewer swerves away, simply saying -- WHAT LOVE COMES TO devours memory as fodder for a galaxy of poems, each one a portal to another world. Buy this absolutely brilliant collection.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Writing Like Herself, to Invent the Universe 1 Jun 2009
By Gary Entsminger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Ruth Stone's "What Love Comes To" is a fine book: new Poems (2008) and selected poems from 1959-2004. Her long career of writing poems seems short though when compared with her age (she was born in Virginia in 1915). She lives in Vermont, and her sense of place is crucial to these poems. Kansas, Virginia, Vermont, New York, California, Indiana. Wherever she's been, she's observed her surroundings well, as a naturalist, noting lilacs, trillium, iris, milkweed, and lifting leaves. She writes of woods, mountains, and "bare fields after the snow is gone." Kansas becomes Africa when "The rolled hay is like hippopotami."

"I started out in the Virginia mountains
with my grandma's pansy bed
and my Aunt Maud's dandelion wine."

She's noticed creatures of ground, water, and air - crows, caterpillars, wasps, bears, hummingbirds, bumblebees, flycatchers, warblers, worms, cats, cockroaches, blind baby mice, the hum of spiders, the husk of a locust, redwing blackbirds, globe fish, nightjars, lions, and phantom zebras. Often her poems seem more like conversational meditations than poetry, as if we're peering into the journal of a life, where words flow as if effortlessly.

"One morning you wake up in a trailer
on the Moline River.
Never mind how you got here."

Sharing her reward for an observed life, she reflects contemplatively.

"I read that the left side
reveals the true self.
My true self has been
stitched to another face.
Not even my words fit.
I listen to what the
mouth is saying,
but I write in a small
notebook -
where is the body of
this person?"

And she stays throughout this book remarkably hopeful.

"Memory becomes the exercise against loss."

I also recommend Virginia poet Dabney Stuart's new book of poems: Tables and Fred Chappell's Midquest: A Poem.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb. Future prize winning book! 3 Jun 2008
By M. E. S. - Published on Amazon.com
Hi. This is my first review. I think this book is worth every penny and it will win a big prize in '08 like the national Book Award or Pulitzer. If not, Fire to Fire by Mark Doty (also his collected works will win!) What I love about this book, is that it reveals the gowth of the poet over time, as any collected works should, but it also shows how elegant, simple but poetic, and wonderful her language has been all along. She is an overlooked poet in my opinion even thow she has won a few of the prizes and Hunger Mountain (a literary journal) named a prize after her! Buy this now!Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must read! 7 Oct 2013
By he - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Blends a wonderful mix of vibrancy, pain, and pictures into her life. One of my favorite poets I'm glad I took the time to read her work.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better with age 3 Oct 2013
By Mcb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The poet was born in 1915 and has been publishing since the Sixties. Her earlier work is good, workmanlike stuff, but she really got better with age. Her later poems are clear, intelligent and affecting: "when you are silent/ the sadness of things/ speaks for you." A widow for thirty years, there are a number of quiet poems about loss, some of them surprisingly erotic. Worth reading.
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